Shining a Spotlight on Women Making History

Did you know that Mozart had a sister, who was considered to have been as talented – if not more talented than him? That some people think it’s possible she was even the composer of some of his pieces?  And did you know that Einstein didn’t actually come up with the theory of relativity on his own, but rather in full collaboration with his scientist wife, Mileva? 


Throughout history, women have played roles in some of our greatest feats of culture, art, science, architecture and more, but have not made it into the history books. But that’s changing, and as more and more women become historians and begin to look at the untold stories of women, and to tell them, that’s changing. 


To mark Women’s History Month, we asked our wonderful history teacher Hester Harmse what drew her to history, and why she thinks it’s important…


Hester, why do you think it is important to teach History at school?


History shows students models of good and responsible citizenship. It also teaches us to learn from our mistakes committed in the past . Through this we learn to examine ourselves and improve the world we live in. History equips us with the qualities we require to understand: compassion and tolerance. Through history, students students make sense of the past whilst coming into contact with other cultures and societies and in this way they gain knowledge and life skills,.   


Where did your love of History come from?


My passion for History started at a very young age. My Grandfather participated in the Boer War from the beginning of the 1900s. As grandchildren, we often visited them. He always used to entertain us with his stories and events that happened during the Anglo Boer War. I used to sit at his feet and listen to these stories and voila! my journey of love for history started then. During my primary school years, I couldn’t get enough reading materials about what happened in the past. During my high school years, I had the most boring History teacher. It was during those years that I decided I want to became a history teacher, but never a boring one. I was always a very inquisitive person. Always wanted to know more about the past. I studied history and it opened new and exciting worlds to me. The need for knowledge was and still is the reason why I became an educator. I want to open new worlds and knowledge to my students, demonstrating the importance of knowing the past to make the present and the future a better place. I visited a lot of different historical sites, which made history real. Now I can share these stories and experiences with my students. Some of my students have  even followed in my footsteps and we continue to share our knowledge with each other.