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Zhenia Plotnikova

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  1. Good evening, As a former student of Mr Jones, I would like to join rto the concerns expressed and post what I have already posted on the Student Education Forum, as another testimony of my profound respect to Mr Jones. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I have stopped reading all the posts on the Student Education Forum when I have seen the following: ""History is possibly the subject where the teacher matters the least of all. Want to get a good mark? Buy the books, read the books, write notes on the books, learn the books."" I am sorry but this is bluntly ridiculous. Nevertheless, let me present myself first so that you can understand my reactions fully. I have graduated from IST in 2006 (perhaps you know me yet by name, Evgenia Plotnikova) and have recently integrated a French "grande école", Sciences Po de Paris, which is considered to be a university of excellence in political sciences. Looking back today to my results in IB or IGCSE, I can assert that my grades are much due to Mr Jones, his talent of teaching and the knowledge he transmitted to me and many others. I remember coming to IST as a lost 15 year old, not knowing how to make a correct essay in English, let alone pass an exam, a tough History exam, in a totally foreign language. Yet, it is precisely the way Mr Jones encouraged my work, the way he teaches, that made me the way I am today: someone with a critical spirit, with an enormous passion for history. Granted, IST has a great deal of excellent teachers and I feel deeply indebted to each of them that has made my route and that of many easier. I transmit my deepest thanks to them all. Yet without diminishing the role of any other of my teachers, I can claim today, and as I shall say to whoever will ask me, Mr Jones is and will rest the best teacher I have ever had, the teacher that knows how to motivate, to develop enthusiasm for his subject, to grade not to just give an A or B or whatever, but to transmit knowledge of your mistakes that you will learn not to repeat. I am not trying to construct what you may see today as a blunt praise, all I am trying to demonstrate is the greatness of the appreciation I have for Mr Jones and the years of History he has taught me. There are teachers that have became great ones by exprience, and then there are teachers who are excellent ones by spirit, by passion; and I believe Mr Jones has managed to unite the two. This is precisely why the decision that has been taken by the school, altough I do not know all the details, seem to me unfounded: not only it disadvantages the students who have lost a teacher of true excellence and experience, but it is also simply humanely unfair on a person who has dedicated a great part of his life to IST and its students. It is hard for me to realise that Mr Jones may not be sitting in his class, going through once again a pile of essays and tests, or preparing a film that will just make your day not only enlightened but also simply a little bit better. Now, just addressing th words of Ben, cite above... Well, looking at my personal experiences and here you cannot unfortunately claim more, as IB cannot offer you more than 45 points, my 7s in History HL or Maths HL, or as in all the rest of my classes has GREATLY depended on all the wonderful teachers that I have had. It is precisely in History, which as you have already understood has a very complicated syllabus in IB and a demanding scheme in IGCSE, that guidance is essential. Receiving my results, I have always felt and still feel that they are mostly due to this guidance, to the explanations you often need, to the challenging tasks you are set to understand you topics and to the corrections you receive. Particularly in History, it is only due to this forum and Mr Jones' help that I have managed to finish a solid Extended Essay and an Internal Assessment, it is thanks to Mr Jones' devotion that I, like every other class, have had special sessions on his HOLIDAYS to get prepared for the exams. So, whether you talk Maths or History, the teacher matters. Even in the area of advice, as it is thanks to Mr Jones' and Mr Wade's advice that I have kept having four High Level subjects, which has not affected my final grades. Today I realise, and one day you shall do as well, History and particularly Mr Jones' talent of teaching it, gives you interpretations and perspectives, a skill of analysis that shall serve you a long long time (and, as proved, even in a French unversity!). I do not know whether this contribution is anywhere helpful, but its aim is to say to you all a word of encouragement, and mostly importantly to tell you, Mr Jones, thank you for the inspiration you gave and continue giving. I hope this unfortunate event will find a reasonable ending. My best regards, Evgenia
  2. Zhenia Plotnikova

    School textbooks issue

    Just wanted to say a BIG thank you to everyone who has replied! I got a lot of helpful and fascinating information, and I feel a lot more confident with the research question... Thanks for your help! Zhenia P.S. Of course, if anyone has some more information to add, I will be only happy
  3. Zhenia Plotnikova

    School textbooks issue

    Thanks a lot for all the replies! It is very useful to see teachers' and experts' perspectives on this issue... I think I have got some follow up questions... What John said made me think about my recent essay on Stalinism and phenomenon of nostalgia in modern Russia. This phenomenon is something that is quite recent (as far as I noticed it myself, so it is arbitrary to say so), and little is thus mentioned in the textbooks. However, when trying to explain why some today are nostalgic about the Stalin's Russia I felt like sometimes I was defending a dictator in attempt to explain. An eerie feeling, I have to say I guess if the part of the essay explaining coercion was deleted and the rest shown to very young students the effect could have been very undesirable! So, do you think that 'subjectivity' can be protective? At least at earlier stages of education? Can it be desirable if it is to develop cultural awareness and national identity (say, by studying more local history?) Or this is indoctrination to be avoided? Thank you again for the replies!
  4. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Education during Brezhnev's era

    Hello to everyone! I have a question on education during Brezhnev's era. I have recently tried to make some research on the topic on the Internet, but it appears quite hard to find any precise information. Does anyone know of any web site offering a detailed description or could anyone tell what were the general trends in education at the time? Was the 'traditional' trend of Stalinist era or something innovative prevailing? Was indoctrination as wide-spread and extensive as it was say in 1930s? Thanks in advance for your help! Zhenia
  5. Zhenia Plotnikova

    History of Russia Panel

    Hello to everyone, I am a student at International school of Toulouse, and I have also studied in Russia and the United States. Being a native Russian, I am naturally very interested in Russian history and especially Stalin's Russia which I have been researching recently. (If anyone would be interested I have recently conducted interviews in Russia focusing on WWII and nostalgia phenomenon) My experience and expertise does not match that of the panel already formed, but if I can be of any help I would be most pleased to do so. Any questions about Russian resources that need translation are also more than welcomed. Zhenia
  6. Zhenia Plotnikova

    School textbooks issue

    Hello to everyone! I am an IB student and I am currently writing a work assessing objectivity, reliability and usefulness of school textbooks. The idea came after reading a Russian history textbook published in 1975, which had a very curios section entitled "Drastic changes in the international environment after the end of the Second World War". The style and the interpretations included there were very interesting to me. So, my question is: do you think objectivity is at all attainable in school textbooks (in all states, whether democratic or totalitarian)? Whether yes or not, does it alter the value of school textbooks as historical sources for future generations? Do you think it is possible in general to write a historical account of an event without making judgements or having any interpretations? I will appreciate any help and thanks to everyone in advance. Zhenia
  7. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Black Hundred

    You are welcome Mr MacGregor-Thunell I am not quite sure, would you like to know who gave and why gave "the black hundred" its name in XX century? If this is the question, I am afraid the resources are limited. I've translated most of what I found already. What I can do though is ask my friend who is studying at a Russian university at linguistics faculty and he'll ask his professors. If that will be OK for you, I'll gladly do that! Only that all the professors will be back in September, so if you do not mind to wait a little for the answer...
  8. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Black Hundred

    Hello, I am sorry for trying to fit into the discussion between the experts, but I thought I could help. Being a Russian native and having studied Russian history in a Russian school for quite a while I remembered the word and did some research on Russian websites. One of the sources said approximately the following: The name ‘black hundred” formed as a result of quite common in Russian language functional transfer of the name from one phenomenon to another. In the Old Russian “black hundred” used to mean the most democratic, unprivileged social group of taxed city population (which used to be divided into hundreds). The metaphor “black” (as opposite to white) meant “paying impost, unprivileged and liable to national government tax”. This is why this phrase used to be part of semantic field that included other similar phrases such as “black tribute” = a general folk tax and others. In a dictionary of 1847 the phrase “black hundred” is defined as "lower class of city philistines”. This included as wide a social group as merchants, some groups of peasants, hunters, the children of priests, etc… By XVIII century this meaning of the phrase was being lost. In the second half of XIX century phrase “black hundred” became an ironical reference to reactionary groups of petty bourgeoisie, merchant’s and philistine’s deputies in the city Duma. This use of the phrase is seen in “Russian thought and speech” by Michelson: “many useful reforms formed in the Duma are never passed due to short-sightedness and counteraction of the black hundred”. As nationalism in Russia developed, the meaning of the phrase gained new undertone of the most radical reactionary part of the monarchical party of tsarist Russia. This new meaning was largely developed by the leftist liberal pre-Revolutionary intelligentsia. Another source gave a bit different explanation: The word appeared already in the XII century in medieval Russia. The “black people” were the people “of the earth” (zemlya in Russian), “zemskie ” (city and village inhabitants); as opposed to “sluzhilie” = people who worked for the government institutions. In this way, “the black hundred” was a group of “zemskie ”, and by calling their organisation “black hundred”, the ideologists of the beginning of the XX century were emphasizing the fact that they were trying to revive the ancient “democratic” ways: in difficult times the groups of “zemskie” were called to preserve the main traditions of the country. In addition, the “black hundred” also came from reference to common, ‘black’ Russian people that in the revolution of 1905 protected the tsardom.
  9. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Soviet regime: were there any advantages?

    Thanks a lot for the replies! John, big thank you for the political background, it is very helpful, I easily get confused in this area... And of course, I have got some follow-up questions, especially after doing all my interviews... First of all, just a little note as follow up to one post... Mr George, although all the answers I received so far were indeed from 'Westerners', they were extremely useful! I have recently interviewed some Russians as well, notably a 82 years old lady whose account was also very useful. I suppose, it is very interesting and exciting to get all kinds of different interpretations in the answer to this question, no matter from which kind of perspective they are. So, a big thank you to everyone who replied! However, after having done my interviews I came so far to the conclusion you summarised so well. I thought that the interpretation of Stalin being a conservative that John gave was very interesting and to be honest I have never encountered such before. It made me think about the importance of coercion in any totalitarian state. At IST my history teacher, Mr Jones-Nerzic, have taught us the ‘formula’ to apply to any totalitarian state: ‘coercion, persuasion, consent’, meaning that all three were usually necessary to keep a single person/party in power. So, would you agree that all three were important in Stalinist society? I do not want in any way to undermine the importance of the coercion, which of course has been crucial, but to what extent was it? Do you think that Stalinist regime could have survived if based only on coercion? Thank you very much!
  10. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Soviet regime: were there any advantages?

    Thank you for all the replies! I think I got few follow-up questions. All the advantages pointed out (skipping of course the disadvantages) seem to be related to social welfare (except women' rights): education, healthcare, etc... Do you think that these advantages came to existence because the elite tried to create some allusion of following Marxism and the principles of common good or to create healthy workforce? Or those were indeed the results of collective actions of people that had aspirations to improve their lives? As Mr Wilkinson pointed out Mr Simkin also mentioned Luxemburg and Martov. Do you think that if time was given for revolution to occur 'at the right moment' the regime would turn out different? Also, I will try to interview some people in Russia on the question, but I was wandering if anyone has any personal experiences or may be knows any real life stories, like Beatles' song:), about the period that would show some of these advantages? Or may be there is a writer who unlike Richard Pipes has wrote anything showing both sides of the question?
  11. Hello to everyone! I am a an IB student and I would like to ask a question about the Soviet Union, but as this question may seem a bit unusual, I will tell how I came up with it. I have recently had an argument with one person about the Soviet Union (being a Russian native, it is something I feel strongly about), and this person has argued that we cannot consider the advantages of this period simply because they have overpowered the great deal of its disadvantages leading to the failure of the regime. I have argued, however, that to be able to evaluate the period you have to consider all the advantages, however small, and disadvantages to be able to compare the two. Perhaps, this is just hard for me to dismiss a whole century of history, my history as well, as a failure. May be someone may disagree with me on this point, but this event made me think about my grandfather who still finds advantages in this period of time. Is it just because of coercion? He is not being frightened or misinformed right now. Is it a habit? All this thoughts led me to my question. I thought that I would like to work on this period (I have not yet defined time exactly, definitely from Stalin onwards) as part of my IB Extended Essay (4000 word free choice essay), proving that some advantages did exist, something must have attracted my grandfather and many others in the regime, beside coercion and propaganda. So, my question is: do you think there have been advantages in Soviet regime and if you do, what would you name? Or do you think there was not any, and if you do why? I would greatly appreciate any help! Thank you very much, and sorry if this question turned out a bit long.
  12. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Banning Religious Symbols and dress from school

    Ibrahim: Exactly! That what I was talking about! Even without religious symbols we are still different and still have something to share. However, I was a bit misinterpreted by Stephen: I did not say, Stephen, that we should produce clones in our chools. I do agree that we should not hide our differences and I do not think that this is what French government was trying to do. However, religious symbols by themselves are not necessarily the best way of teaching differences. For example I am an Orthodox, when most of students in my school are Catholics (or atheists, but that's not to the point ). However, I do not wear any religious symbols and it still does not stop me from discussing my religious beliefs with others. I mean, knowing that the other religion exists is good, but demonstrating it publically is a bit different. Coming back to human rights, public expression has not always been positive. Taking an example of Hitler, he used completely legal propaganda as one of the most effective tools on his road to power. PS Sorry for late answer, I had my French oral exam this week and could not reply earlier.
  13. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Banning Religious Symbols and dress from school

    Mrs. Schuh-Fricke: I both agree and disagree with this. I think that religion was excluded from French school in order to keep the diversity of nations without allowing it to influence the students. I mean that the tolerance and respect can still be practised by looking at the cultural differences, such as customs and traditions or studying in different ways, etc., but not differences in religion only. I also do not think that French government forbidden the religious expression only because it wants to make all students 'true French'. May be I'm mistaken, but I think that French government probably does not want French students to study the religion or to see it in the school, as religion should be a matter of personal choice, not affected by education. And if the parents of a child think that their child should learn the religion or a child chose it himself, then there are private schools. But again, it is matter of personal choice only.
  14. Zhenia Plotnikova

    Banning Religious Symbols and dress from school

    Hey Stephen! Sorry for the delay in answer, but I could not reply earlier. I agree with you that diversity of nation in a country is good (I myself am a Russian in a French community), but foreigners also have to adjust a bit to country where they live! Why when French journalists go to Muslim countries, they wear a vale? Because they respect the rules and traditions of these countries! So, foreigners that come to France also should respect the rule that religion and public life in France are separated. And this rule works for everybody, for French people too, so there should not be a talk about discrimination. You also forgot, Stephen, that in France, as far as I know, peole of different religion can express themselves wherever they want, but not in the school only. And the fact that religion is not shown in the school is simply explained. Sometimes, religion is a very dangerous tool. If I rememebr it right, you have said yourself that religion is a kind of nationalism and you strongly argued against nationalism, didn't you? And if some people still want their children to study religion, they can always send them to a private school. Sorry, if my argument was a bit strong, I did not mean it
  15. Zhenia Plotnikova


    I'm so sorry Robbert!l I did not realise it was with a double b! I'm still on bad terms with the foreign names!!! (ashamed) And about doubting: yeah, everything is good to a certain extent....