Archive for December, 2009

Why should you choose history?

Posted: December 21, 2009 in AS Level, GCSE, Year 9

History teachers are frequently asked why students should study history. My answer is usually that it is not the subject content that is important but the skills that are developed. Many careers require analytical and argumentative skills. Subjects such as science and history perhaps enable students to develop these skills more than others. The powerpoint below is from an education website and hopefully answers the question above.

Why choose history?

There are other educational institutions which explain, or indeed argue, why students should choose history…

Why choose history? University of Liverpool

Why choose history? Monash University

You can research more institutions in your own time if you feel these do not fully answer your questions. You can also watch the two clips below to gain more understanding. The second one is obviously not about NCBIS but you get the picture!

An interest in history demonstrates to a future employer that you are open-minded, can make decisions based on evidence, and are interested in the world around you. You will also develop transferable skills such as analysis, evaluation, organisation and presentation of information orally and in written form. Careers available when studying history include;

– Law

– Politics

– Journalism

– Publishing

– Business Management

The world already has many superb history teachers but I suppose you could include this exceptional career as well!


Shostakovich – who?

Posted: December 18, 2009 in Miscellaneous

The Battle, or indeed siege, of Leningrad is famous for the length of time it took and the casualties taken. The World at War series of 1969 gives a superb explanation of what happened and the terrible suffering the inhabitants of the city endured.

The clip above is from the World at War series. If you want to know more about the period, either type the episode title of Red Star into YouTube or buy the series. The name in the post is a Russian composer. He lived under Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin so he was not alone amongst the millions of people living in the Soviet Union in falling out of favour with the government at some stage. The clip below, again from the Open University, explains that the siege of Leningrad was an important event in his life.

According to Wikipedia sacred is considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion. As the open university clip above explains, there are many sites which are sacred. Obviously some are more sacred than others. It very much depends on where you live, your beliefs, age etc. Every country has its own sacred sites so consider why they are so respected and who are they important to.

Who believes in Santa Claus?

Posted: December 18, 2009 in Miscellaneous

So where does Santa Claus come from? Hopefully this clip will give you a few ideas. I am not sure how the evidence leads to presents and Father Christmas so I will leave you resarch that yourself.

Year 11 Revision

Posted: December 18, 2009 in GCSE

You should use the websites I have listed on this blog to revise from. Some of the games are useful but bear in mind that some of the subject content is not relevant to the Edexcel course. The topics you need to revise are as follows;

Paper 1 – 11/01/2010

Stalin’s 5 Year Plans, Stakhanovites, NEP

Purges and Show Trials

NATO, Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan and the causes of the Cold War

Events of the Cold War 1945 to 1956

Reagan and Gorbachev

Paper 2 – 17/01/2010

Causes of the Russian Revolution – short and long-term

You will obviously need to brush up on your sourcework so and  are a must. There are two exam papers so a great deal of knowledge is required. I will be running revision classes again on Mondays so those with effort grades of 2 or more are more than welcome.

Was Haig a butcher?

Posted: December 1, 2009 in Year 9
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Field Marshall Douglas Haig is most associated with the Battle of the Somme in the Great War. He was Britain’s commander-in-chief during the battle and took much criticism for the sheer loss of life in this battle. Historians of past and present argue about whether Haig alone was responsible for so many casualties. John Laffin wrote his book, ‘British Butchers and Bunglers of World War One’, in 1996 and was strongly against Haig as a commander. Gary Sheffield wrote, ‘Forgotten Victory: The First World War – Myths and Realities‘ in 2002 and argues that Haig should be given credit for aiding the French cause at Verdun and ultimately winning the Great War. In fact his current research project is Field Marshall Haig. You have the opportunity to judge yourself in Year 9. The more information you find, the easier the task of developing a judgment will be. However, as always, as historians you should be careful with the origins of the evidence. Watch the clips below, make use of the websites listed here and read my comments about what you should think of when establishing a judgment.

The clip above is a student’s piece of work on Field Marshall Haig. Is he correct with his interpretation?

The clip above may give you an idea of how the war was fought. Survivors recall memories so what impression does this give of Haig.

Evidence about the war with references to Haig.

Evidence from the same website about Haig.

Article from a history website.

A useful answer from a web page that may help. 

Haig from Spartacus.schoolnet

Haig from the History Learning site

A summary of the battle from the BBC

How the Daily Mirror reported the battle at the time?

When analysing Haig you must build on your skills developed in Year 8. Most pupils anaysed Oliver Cromwell and several battles last year. Interpretations of historical events depend on many factors. People are influenced by emotions, current political events, the media and what evidence they read. For example when the book, ‘All quiet on the western front’, was published in 1929 it was one of the first anti-war publications. Previously people thought of the war as something to be remembered and celebrated. Other types of media changed people’s attitudes to war. A movie was made from the book above and made this view more widespread. The anti-war feeling was further developed in the 1960’s and since this period more and more books and documentaries have targeted Haig as a very poor commander.

A common debate in history is how historical figures are judged from modern perspectives. There were 58,ooo casualties on 1st July 1916 at the start of the Battle of the Somme.  Would this be acceptable today? Warfare in recent times, despite more destructive weapons being available, generally does not produce huge casualty lists. You only have to watch news programmes today to see how the deaths of 2 soldiers is reported for example. Should a historian judge from a different time period or show a degree of empathy? There are always two sides to a story so which do you agree with. 

The Battle of the Somme was fought in northeast France. The map shows where the River Somme is although the battle was also fought alongside the River Ancre. The British and French armies over a four and a half month period only achieved a maximum distance of 11 km. At a cost of about 620, 000 casualties. Can the battle be considered a success and what impact does it have on the ability of Field Marshall Haig?