Last week I held an A-level History class outside of our normal room, moving it to a local Costa Coffee shop. This was due to a couple of reasons:

  1. A new shop had just opened up near the college site.

  2. The students made a convincing case for going: we could drink coffee and do history together.

As you can see, the stars aligned for this lesson to be held in the Costa. And so, I readily submitted, and thought that it would be the perfect way to start my Monday morning. I would leave my house, walk to the Costa, drink a cup of coffee and have the first session, before then wandering onto the main college campus. Perfect.

However, it did not go according to plan. Firstly, it wasn’t a simple walk through the Costa on the way to college: I needed to print some material for the lesson itself. So, instead, it was a walk into college, printing the paperwork, before then moving back to the coffee-shop (by which time it was raining!).

In terms of the lesson itself, well, the success is debatable. Of course, I couldn’t simply go and set up a projector and go through slides, however, that wasn’t such an issue. This was a perfect session to work on the Historical Investigation coursework, and I decided to focus on the use of sources and how to fully evaluate them in order to pick up marks. Therefore, the session would consist of a few activities reading and picking apart sources, before the students considered their own selected sources.

All of this seemed to go well, but there were a few sticking points:

  • I’m not sure that the other patrons of the coffee shop enjoyed me yabbering on about a newspaper source relating to the Boer War (and my loud, grating voice probably annoyed a couple of nearby coffee-drinkers).

  • The sound of the coffee-making apparatus was incredibly loud: this wasn’t entirely conducive for discussion within the group.

  • The coffee-shop staff appeared to accommodate themselves to this guerrilla lesson, however, I believe there was a raised eye-brow at the proceedings.

So, all in all, what was the outcome. Well, a lesson happened. Coffee was consumed. And it was definitely nice to get outside of the familiar four walls of the regular classroom. Perhaps I’ll attempt a second session in Costa Coffee before deciding completely as to whether it is entirely productive. The head says “No”, but the stomach says, “More coffee, Dave!”