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alf wilkinson

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Everything posted by alf wilkinson

  1. My seminar focused on a simple practical example of how we might encourage history teachers to use ICT in their lessons. If we start from the history, and not from the ICT, then we can show how we can actually do history, only better, using ICT. I started from my local war memorial. Many teachers do use their local war memorial to look at names, events etc. If you coup e this with a visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – www.cwgc.org.uk you can find out about each soldier, where they are buried or commemorated, and a little about the campaign they were killed in. Follow this up with a websearch for the war cemeteries and/or memorials, and you put the soldiers’ deaths in context, and help to make the war more human. Another websearch explored the battles/campaigns they died in. You only need a few names to link the First World War very firmly to the local area – many of the names will be familiar to local pupils from the newspapers and the local cemetery. In my case the two were killed at Gallipoli and Passchendale – significant battles in WW1. Both my casualties were in the Lincolnshire Regiment, which no longer exists. A couple of judicious searches produced the story of the Lincolnshire Regiment – they were called ‘Yellowbellies’ not because of cowardice, but because of the yellow mess waistcoat of the dress uniform! So, starting from the local I can explore most of the significant events of WW1, linking local to national to international, in a way that brings home the war. I can also do good history – searching, finding out, selecting, presenting information – only as soon becomes apparent, better using the internet and perhaps’ powerpoint’ for pupils to present their work, than by using textbooks and libraries. You don’t have to be hi-tech to effectively do history using ICT, and for many teachers, that is the way into becoming effective users of ICT in history teaching and learning.
  2. alf wilkinson

    E-HELP Debate: War Crimes in the 20th Century

    The idea of war crimes is, despite international law, rife with ambiguities. It is, I think, the intentionality that is the key. That is what leads to a definition of genocide - King Leopold's Congo, South West Africa, Armenia, Nanking, the Kurds, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda all rank as intentional acts of murder and genocide. My Lai, in Vietnam, for instance, was undoubtedly a war crime, ie 'against the rules of war' but would hardly rank as genocide. Some acts appear justifiable at the time - area blanket bombing in WW2 for instance - which we no longer accept as justifiable. Does that mean they were wrong in the context of 1943-44? Should we apologise for things that we think are wrong, but people at the time didn't think were wrong? History is all about interpretations, and these, as we all know, change over time. The concept of War Crimes is nowhere near as straight forward as we might think.
  3. alf wilkinson

    Europe's Other Half: Women in the 20th Century

    Will do, Alf.
  4. alf wilkinson

    Europe's Other Half: Women in the 20th Century

    Hi - I've been pondering the best way forward on the 'women's history' topic, and especially the oral/social history, rather than the political history. Perhaps if we can agree a kind of template for interviewing women about their experiences, that we could all use, so we are working in a similar way. This might make it easier to pick out similarities and differences across Europe. I wonder if Dan's better half has anything we might adapt? I'm not suggesting we should all stick rigidly to it, it just might make the whole project more coherent. I have in mind a three [four?] generational interview with family members, asking similar questions and ...well, we'd have to see what comes out of it. It might be something to spend a little time on in Toulouse - although as I won't be there I am reticent to make suggestions about the agenda.
  5. alf wilkinson

    Soviet regime: were there any advantages?

    It is, as you say, hard to 'write off' a whole century of Russian history as if it was a bad dream. Historians argue about the Tsar, and how democratic Russia was on the way to becoming in 1917. They also argue about the amount of support the Bolsheviks had in 1917-20. So the starting point of the discussion varies enormously! Despite the failure of communism and the disintegration of the USSR discussion is usually still based on political ideology, and this complicates the issue even more. Lets focus on Stalin. There was coercion and terror. There was little attention paid to living standards, as opposed to economic growth. And yet there were millions of proud volunteers who worked long and hard to make their country great, especially as the West was in a Great Depression at the time. That is something that we must not ignore. Some indicators, as previously mentioned, show a distinct improvement - literacy, scientific education, role of women, to name just a few. Also during WW2 Russians were proud of the sacrifices they were making for freedom - as they saw it - and defeating Fascism. They expected a better life after the war, and the political leadership let them down. So there were gains. But there were losses too - or perhaps broken aspirations? But doesn't that apply to Western Governments too? Many people in Britain feel badly let down by the Labour Governments they elected and expected so much from.... Perhaps, given the perceived chaos in Russia at present it is still far too early to make a definitive judgement - only time will tell.
  6. alf wilkinson

    Europe's Other Half: Women in the 20th Century

    Could it be useful to think in terms of an oral history input too? How women's lives have changed? Also, not just the vote, but topics like the 60s, when women's lib really started, with the pill, etc, etc? And equal rights legislation - the 'glass ceiling' - limiting women's progress in business? There is much more to the changing status and role of women than the vote. Some would argue that getting the vote changed nothing......
  7. alf wilkinson

    Photos

    Quick work Anders! What an ugly looking mob, though.....
  8. alf wilkinson

    Evaluation of Toulouse Meeting

    sorry, Richard, I can't use your evaluation copy either. Can I have a word copy via email? when you return from your few days away. I think the first meeting went really well, but a little more reflection time, and a little more 'doing' time, rather than listening time, would have been good. As one who stuck to his 15 minutes, I agree with Andy - if we had stuck to that we would have had more reflection time. I liked having associates there, and presenting - it added a deeper dimension to the meeting, and would like them present again. But we must also work on our own targets too.
  9. alf wilkinson

    Dissemination

    I will include details in the HA enews letter, and raise the project at Secondary Committee. The project will feature regularly in HA enews - 4000 history teachers. We will get text in the secondary journal - Teaching History - and in the Becta enewsletter in the autumn. I shall endeavour to brief the Times Educational Supplement - weekly teachers newspapers - history journalist in due course. I think that's all I said I would do in the short term....
  10. alf wilkinson

    Meeting One Presentations

    One way I've used ICT that had a direct impact on teaching and learning was a series of lessons on WW1. We started from the local war memorial - the names are familiar to local children and you immediately 'people' the war with real people. So far, so good, no need for ICT there. Except, by using the web I can immediately link the names to their graves via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and make further use of the web to research these cemetaries or memorials. I can also discover where they lost their lives, and further research these events of the war via the web. All perfectly possible using text books, reference books; well perhaps possible, but certainly possible using the web. I have used the power of the web to bring an immediacy to the research; to link the local with the war; and to open out to most campaigns of the war. All from a digital photograph. That, to me, gives an indication of the power of the web to encourage research skills, to investigate history, and to link the local to the national to the international. Not bad for a couple of lessons!
  11. alf wilkinson

    ICT in Education: The Future

    I would very much like to work in Richard's school in Toulouse - or one similar - where ICT is embedded in the curriculum, where I don't have to book the facilities a week next thursday! Until that is the case then it will always be difficult to use the full power of ICT effectively in lessons. I would also like pupils to be properly computer literate, so I could spend lesson time teaching history using ICT not teaching ICT! I would also like to see an intelligent search engine. They can develop intelligent 'anti-spam' programs - the more I use it the more it successfully filters out the rubbish in my emails. Why can't my search engine work in the same way and filter out the useless websites from my searches?
  12. alf wilkinson

    ICT in the Classroom: Current Good Practice

    One way I've used ICT that had a direct impact on teaching and learning was a series of lessons on WW1. We started from the local war memorial - the names are familiar to local children and you immediately 'people' the war with real people. So far, so good, no need for ICT there. Except, by using the web I can immediately link the names to their graves via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and make further use of the web to research these cemetaries or memorials. I can also discover where they lost their lives, and further research these events of the war via the web. All perfectly possible using text books, reference books; well perhaps possible, but certainly possible using the web. I have used the power of the web to bring an immediacy to the research; to link the local with the war; and to open out to most campaigns of the war. All from a digital photograph. That, to me, gives an indication of the power of the web to encourage research skills, to investigate history, and to link the local to the national to the international. Not bad for a couple of lessons!
  13. Hi - I am doing some research into the use of regional archive material in the classroom. The aim is to encourage regional film archives to open up their 'treasures' in a way that makes it easy for teachers to use in their work. Do members use regional film archive in their classroom? For what? what are the best kind of resources? What are the worst? I'd be interested to know your experiences. What kind of resources would you like? Can we produce a wish-list?
  14. alf wilkinson

    Greatest Figure in the History of the World

    I would support Terry in his commendation of Nelson Mandela. My son has recently returned from South Africa, where he visited Robben Island, and he came away mightily impressed by the humanity and vision of Mandela in not being turned into a monster wanting revenge by the conditions suffered there. It must take a great deal of goodness to be able to repeatedly turn the other cheek, and preach reconciliation.
  15. alf wilkinson

    Dissemination and Publishing

    Euroclio would also make an excellent avenue for dissemination - at their annual conferences we could do a progress paper, and promote the book too. If we can contact national subject associations, like the HA, and ICT organisations, like NAACE in the UK, these too would be good avenues for dissemination. You might also find one of the mainstream publishers prepared to handle the book - Terry got the HA book out via Routledge....
  16. alf wilkinson

    Student History Project

    Has the potential to grow into something good, if you get the posts to keep people coming back. I can promote the site in the HA enews for econdary teachers if you wish.
  17. alf wilkinson

    E-HELP Team

    My name is Alf Wilkinson and I was a history teacher, head of history and ICT Co-ordinator at a large comprehensive school in Bedford for many years. I left to run the Historical Association NOF training scheme. I know it is fashionable to knock NOF training but I think we helped a lot of teachers move on. I am now Professional Development Manager for the HA. This last year I have organised a national conference for history teachers on using ICT and been involved in various projects on behalf of the HA. I am interested in the story part of history, and making learning fun! Sometimes we forget that part of our calling. I have written lots of online materials and have my own commercial website. I am also involved in writing textbooks. Apart from that, I like a quiet life in the country!
  18. alf wilkinson

    Student Question: Democracy versus Dictatorship?

    The ultimate irony of World War Two is that Britain became, during the war, almost more totalitarian than Germany. People, male and female, were conscripted, much more so than in Nazi Germany, and the Government much more effectively mobilised society to fight a total war. So was it a war of democracy against dictatorship? It was a war about power. Hitler wanted an empire of his own - land-based, and in Europe, sure, or did he really want to conquer the world? It was a war about economic wealth. Despite the claims to the contrary, it was a war that all powers were eager to fight., even the USA despite its neutrality. For the first two years of the war the USA was fighting the Nazis by proxy - getting Britain to do it for her.
  19. alf wilkinson

    Student Question

    Leninism also provided the practical basis for Stalin and his policies - the use of terror, the one-party state, propaganda, the stifling of debate in the party, the 'we know best' attitude, all date from Lenin and his time as party leader. Many historians argue that Stalin was driven by the desire to achieve what Lenin had not - a communist revolution - without compromise and without giving in to other sectors of society. Of course some historians argue that Stalin was not a communist, he was a 'great Russian' - an old-fashioned Tsar if you like - who put country - Russia not Georgia - above everything else. Certainly Stalin was no great theoretician, like Marx or Lenin, but the jury is out on his Marxist credentials. see http://www.burntcakes.com/resources/resource_191_5.html for a revision activity on Stalin and his achievements.
  20. alf wilkinson

    Stalin's use of terror

    Terror was central to Stalin's rule - but it is impossible to terrorise a whole population. Terror and persuasion were different sides of the same coin. Many, many idealistic young Communists went off to build the new cities like Magnitogorsk, in the most terible conditions, totally voluntarily, to help build the exciting new society many really believed in. Terror was mostly applied to the Party - not totally, it's true, and this is where Stalin differed from Lenin. Lenin used terror, but not as a rule on his own, whereas Stalin used it increasingly as he became more and more dominant. Of course, revisionist historians argue that once started, it developed a life of its own, that the terror was 'driven from below' rather than by Stalin. Young people impatient to make the revolution work faster! Bur don't forget - in the 30s the west was in decline, or so it appeared. Communism appealed to many as an effective alternative. Persuasion and the 'cult of the individual' were, to my mind, at least as important as terror. see the resource at: http://www.burntcakes.com/resources/resource_191_5.html
  21. alf wilkinson

    The novel that changed your life.

    I remember reading 'One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch' and it having a profound impact on me. It taught me more about the Russian Revolution than any amount of history texts. The part where Ivan Denisovitch asks if Comrade Stalin can even control the sun fittingly emphasises totalitarian ideas and aims yet pokes fun at it. A short book with a big impact.
  22. alf wilkinson

    E-Mail Lists for Teachers

    It is one thing signing up to email lists, it is another altogether making good use of them. You really need to be selective, and carefully choose list(s) that are pertinent to what you want to get out of them. Someone once said that the problem with teaching was there is not enough information; now, with the internet, the problem is often there is too much! It is easy to get inundated with emails and information that distracts you from what you are trying to do! It is great to be able to share problems (challenges!) - and experiences - with like minded colleagues, and that is one of the beauties of online forums and email lists; you can share things, or ask questions that you might not want to ask your supervisor, etc for fear of feeling stupid. And of course if you cannot find a list that focuses on what you want, then start your own.
  23. alf wilkinson

    History teaching and working with non-specialists

    I agree - it is a justifiable response to give non-specialists the weaker groups, but the only way to turn a non-specialist into a 'specialist' history teacher is to make them want to teach history. And the best way to do that is to make them think - 'oh, I didn't know you could do that...' or 'that's much better/more efficient/saves me time compared to the way we do it in my department...' We used to distribute 'lead tasks' or preparing resources around the whole group of us, specialists and non-specialists alike. With a little thought you can choose areas/topics that fit in with a non-specialist's interests and skills. Give them, or better still let them think they have chosen to do, something that suits their skills, and get everyone else to use those resources. Discuss the way you used them, or if possible, let them observe you using them. It works. Some team-teaching can be a useful way to inspire/motivate non-specialists, as long as it leads them to think 'I can do that,' and not, 'God I'm hopeless!' Patience, leadership skills, knowing your own subject and having the confidence to inspire non-specialists are an essential part of being a Head of Department in many schools these days.
  24. alf wilkinson

    History of Russia Panel

    My name is Alf Wilkinson, and I have been teaching history for more than 30 years. My interest in Russian history developed out of teaching the Revolution and Stalin at A Level, and subsequently at AS and A2 level. I have produced materials on Russia for my website Burnt Cakes (http://www.burntcakes.com/) and for New Perspective - a magazine for A Level students as well as for (http://www.history-ontheweb.co.uk/new_pers/new_pers.htm). I am endlessly fascinated by the topic, and the way historians re-write the story of the key characters involved. The interesting thing at present is the much greater emphasis on the part ordinary people played in events in Russia in the C20th. http://www.burntcakes.com/ http://www.history-ontheweb.co.uk/new_pers/new_pers.htm
  25. alf wilkinson

    Ask an Expert Team

    My name is Alf Wilkinson, and I have been teaching history for more than 30 years. I first began using computers in the 1980s, when you needed a tape recorder to store your data, and everything was very slow! I took a Masters Degree in 1984-85, and one of the options was ‘Computers in Education’, and this gave me a chance to explore what computers can do in history teaching and learning. I now work for the Historical Association as their Professional Development manager. In my opinion there are two main reasons for using computers in history – either to do something you could not otherwise do; or to do something you can already do, but do it better. To borrow a simple example from science – it is very difficult to create a nuclear reaction in a school laboratory, but it is very easy to simulate one on a computer screen! Similarly, it is difficult to run the Battle of the Somme in the classroom, or on the school field, yet it is relatively easy to create a computer program that allows you to re-run the battle, and change events to see if you could do any better. In fact it was these early simulations, published by Tressel in England, that really got me into using computers. Since then I have become fascinated by the way computers can aid teaching and learning. But we must remember that they are only a tool, to be used as appropriate, like a TV, video, textbook or teacher talk. They will never replace the teacher! For examples of how I think ICT can be effectively used in history teaching and learning see my website: www.burntcakes.com
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