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John Simkin

The Student as Historian: An ICT Revolution

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Thanks for the links John, in fact I used the link about the bomb plot at the end of the lesson when we were discussing what happened after the attempt had failed. Did you know that a German film has been made about the White rose group and is coming out next year?

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Thanks for the links John, in fact I used the link about the bomb plot at the end of the lesson when we were discussing what happened after the attempt had failed. Did you know that a German film has been made about the White rose group and is coming out next year?

I have just returned from a study tour to Berlin with my Year 11 students. One of the highlights was a visit to the Museum of German Resistance which is based in the old army HQ buildings from where the July Plot was coordinated.

They house some fascinating documents, offer superb tours and have an excellent Website which you and your students may find useful.

The Stauffenberg Plot is covered HERE

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(4) teachers enjoy being performers;

I think this one is the least accurate of all.  I love the idea of creating the self-sustaining chain reaction of a learning environment in which I could be like God in the Newtonian or Deistic universe, where I set things in motion and they happened and I as the clock maker was revered as the rarely present omnipresent creator of learning.

I enjoy reading magazines and clicking around here on the Internet.  If I didn't have to be "performing" and putting information in front of my students and holding them to task to do some type of learning for my subject, I would be a much more relaxed person. 

I do not lecture because I like hearing myself speak.  I do not like speaking in public much.  I lecture because I feel that it is the best way to ensure that a level amoount of information is being chewed on by my several classes and that we have a base of material to work from to use for testing and interpretation purposes.

If my lectures were interrupted every day by on topic questions and those questions were anwsered eagerly by their peers and a real give and take in discussion was occuring I would be happy to give up more and more of my lecture time every week.

Nay, ecstatic.  Moreso, I would feel like the greatest teacher in the world.

I encourage discussion.  The students discourage it.

Whether teachers like it or not they have to be “performers” in the classroom. I suspect the level of pleasure that a teacher gets from his/her work depends to some extent on the enjoyment they get from “performing”. This is reflected in the success that a teacher has in holding the student’s attention.

This fact became clear to me when I was training to be a teacher. I spent the first two weeks observing nearly 50 different teachers in the class. I noted that most of the effective teachers were good performers. This skill was closely connected to their ability to communicate to an audience. At the same time, the ineffective teachers were appalling performers/communicators.

I found this rather disturbing. I did not have confidence that I could ever become a good performer. However, over time you do develop these skills. This obviously benefits the student but there is a danger that the teacher spends too much time “performing” and not enough time developing those skills that will help students become independent learners.

I have to admit that when I first experienced classroom observation I did not take into account the ability of teachers to help students to become independent learners. The importance of this only emerged with experience. I then realized why I had not been successful at school. It was not because my teachers had been poor performers. They had failed in helping me become a motivated learner.

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They had failed in helping me become a motivated learner.

John, this debate has been one of my lingering to-do list items for some time. I have been trying to figure out what I would consider a more ideal education system for my students. And there are always the fears of minus-sum tradeoffs or unintended consequences to slow me.

One of my previous points I was trying to emphasize is that I am limited significantly by the structure in which I find myself. Someone else has chosen my classroom size, the length of class period, and the meeting schedule for my class. I also have a list of responsibilities for any given day at work.

I feel very pressed to keep up with my present workload and it keeps increasing every year. I have placed high priority on making my students write and write often.

I sometimes dream of a more open environment in which I assign my students material and have them come back in tutorial or small group sessions to discuss there individual journey through the material and prompt them with follow up questions. But no one is seriously discussing moving to a tutorial system in my neighborhood.

I also have a strong conservative streak in me when it comes to education. This conservative streak looks out at some very modest countries that routinely out-perform the United States in education despite our heavy spending on education. On the other hand our university system is the best in the world and our professors qualify to teach by virtue of their mastery to teach and have no required education courses.

Quite often those university classes are chalk talk and independent outside study, period, with very little individual access to instructors.

What does all of this mean? Well I don't know.

They had failed in helping me become a motivated learner.

I also coach tennis at my school. I have played tennis for almost thirty years and I am capable of being an effective private tennis instructor. We have another coach with many years of on court teaching experience. Parents and players often expect that their children will get a lot of on court instruction time from us during the season, and I understand this assumption, but it is wrong. Our season progresses very quickly. Conditioning, getting back in the swing of tennis swings, challenge matches to set the order of the ladder, and then a series of weeks with two to four matches. In between those matches we have light hitting sessions that can be tailored some to meet individual needs. But in reality, by the end of the season, if we spend one half hour of individual time working on tennis with each player on the team, we are lucky.

I assume that every year I can be determined to have failed to helping my tennis players become inspired students of the game.

In the classroom, I hope to motivate and inspire my students. But I stop short of placing that on my requirement list. I believe learning is largely self-motivated. Parents, friends, relatives, dreams, and teachers can be motivational in this, but I feel that I have done my job if I have presented the opportunity to have a quality learning environment and that I have challenged my students academically.

In terms of life training, I tend to believe that a rigorous workload provides my students with their best opportunity to succeed in life.

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What particularly interested me about your seminar was the idea of asking students to learn about a historical event, or even relive it, through the accounts of people who actually experienced that event.

The CVCE produces filmed interviews of people who have witnessed important events in European history, and then enters them into the European NAvigator (ENA) knowledge base. In so doing, the CVCE has a similar objective: that of bringing a human dimension to the process of European integration. Alongside well-known people such as Otto von Habsburg, we also make a point of interviewing lesser known figures, such as Jean Monnet’s secretary, who provide us with a vivid account of their experiences. However, our interviewing process is always approached from the perspective of information professionals.

This is my idea: I was wondering whether a teacher might find it interesting to study a European event with his or her students and, as part of the project, conduct an interview with an individual — whether well-known or not — who witnessed that event. The accession of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community is to my mind a good example. I think that this topic would provide a good basis for a wide range of activities, such as role-playing games in which students have to argue for or against Europe, a theme which is extremely pertinent in view of current events. The teacher could also ask his or her students to find newspaper articles about it. I feel that this would be a good example to illustrate the importance of learning about history in order to understand and assess the issues currently at stake. The teacher could ask his or her students to choose one or two individuals whom they could interview and for whom they would then prepare questions.

This interview could be conducted in cooperation with the CVCE. In the first instance, we would be prepared to provide the teacher with the technical equipment required, as well as a member of our team to film the interview. The film could then be used for educational purposes: for example, as a tool to compare what has been brought to light during the interview with the contents of official speeches which are available in ENA. In order to highlight the work carried out by the students, and providing the quality of the recording is good, we would then add some excerpts from the interview to the ENA knowledge base. If you so wish, this project could also be incorporated in some way into the E-Help project.

I personally believe that such an experience would turn out to be very enriching for teachers, students and the CVCE alike.

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What particularly interested me about your seminar was the idea of asking students to learn about a historical event, or even relive it, through the accounts of people who actually experienced that event.

The CVCE produces filmed interviews of people who have witnessed important events in European history, and then enters them into the European NAvigator (ENA) knowledge base. In so doing, the CVCE has a similar objective: that of bringing a human dimension to the process of European integration. Alongside well-known people such as Otto von Habsburg, we also make a point of interviewing lesser known figures, such as Jean Monnet’s secretary, who provide us with a vivid account of their experiences. However, our interviewing process is always approached from the perspective of information professionals.

This is my idea: I was wondering whether a teacher might find it interesting to study a European event with his or her students and, as part of the project, conduct an interview with an individual — whether well-known or not — who witnessed that event. The accession of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community is to my mind a good example. I think that this topic would provide a good basis for a wide range of activities, such as role-playing games in which students have to argue for or against Europe, a theme which is extremely pertinent in view of current events. The teacher could also ask his or her students to find newspaper articles about it. I feel that this would be a good example to illustrate the importance of learning about history in order to understand and assess the issues currently at stake. The teacher could ask his or her students to choose one or two individuals whom they could interview and for whom they would then prepare questions.

This interview could be conducted in cooperation with the CVCE. In the first instance, we would be prepared to provide the teacher with the technical equipment required, as well as a member of our team to film the interview. The film could then be used for educational purposes: for example, as a tool to compare what has been brought to light during the interview with the contents of official speeches which are available in ENA. In order to highlight the work carried out by the students, and providing the quality of the recording is good, we would then add some excerpts from the interview to the ENA knowledge base. If you so wish, this project could also be incorporated in some way into the E-Help project.

I personally believe that such an experience would turn out to be very enriching for teachers, students and the CVCE alike.

One of the decisions we made at our last meeting last weekend was to carry out video interviews with women in Europe who experienced events such as the First World War, the Depression, the Second World War, the 1960s, etc. We even thought it might be a good idea to ask them about their childhood (the games they played, etc.).

I am going to interview my 91 year old mother next week. My plan is to use photographs of her at various stages in her life as a backdrop of this interview. For example, when she is talking about watching her father go off to war (one of her first memories – she even remembered what he said to his wife: “you can’t wait to get rid of me”) I would show a photograph of my mother when she was four years old (unfortunately she does not have a photograph of my grandfather in his army uniform).

All the members of the project will be involved in making these “mini documentaries”. Some members will get their students involved in this process. It will make a fascinating archive. I am sure E-HELP will be willing to work with you on this.

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I intend to carry out these sort of video interviews with several elderly women (among them my 84 years old mother) and try to record their memories of some key moments in her life.

One of the earliest memories of my mother is all her family attending to Pablo Iglesias' (founder of Spanish Socialist Party) funeral procession. I am interested in asking them not only on historical events (civil war, Franco's dictatorship) and the way they affected women's life, but also on women's daily life and its evolution over the last century.

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I intend to carry out these sort of video interviews with several elderly women (among them my 84 years old mother) and try to record their memories of some key moments in her life.

One of the earliest memories of my mother is all her family attending to Pablo Iglesias' (founder of Spanish Socialist Party) funeral procession. I am interested in asking them not only on historical events (civil war, Franco's dictatorship) and the way they affected women's life, but also on women's daily life and its evolution over the last century.

I also intend to get my students carry out some video interviews. I fancy the idea!

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At the moment I am not involved in an oral history project. I did some a couple of years ago: one focussed on my school and its history and a group of students interviewed former pupils about their schooldays but also about their lives in general; most of the women we interviewed had gone to school in the 1920's and 1930's; we recorded the interviews and then wrote a booklet based on those interviews.

I think that the pupils involved in the project learned more about history and how it affects the life of ordinary people - young and old - than in their history classes ( I can tell and say that as I was their history teacher then). Besides history they also learned how to ask questions and how to listen carefully.

I think this method of research (interviewing people) is also very useful for citizenship lessons: the class first has to decide what they really want to know; they have to prepare some questions; get acquainted with the equipment, do the interviews and then analyse them.

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I interviewed my 91 year old mother on Saturday. I was forced to bring it to an end after protest from family members claiming that I was endangering the life of my mum.

We had a family get together on Saturday so I thought I would use this opportunity to film the interview. To reduce editing to a minimum, I decided to film it in chronological order. The idea being that the first part would involve my mother’s voice appearing over filmed photographs. Near the end she would be filmed talking about how life has changed for working class women in Britain.

She began describing when and where she was born. While this was happening I filmed photographs of Hackney at the time of her birth. She then spoke about her first memory (her father going away to fight in the First World War). This was accompanied by photographs of her father and mother and scenes of soldiers marching off to war.

The next section involved her talking about the characters she met as a child who were living in Hackney Workhouse. Most of these were disabled and she used to help them collect fag ends in order they could make their own cigarettes.

I photographed of the workhouse and its immates. I also shot pictures of her as a young girl (aged 6). She also talked about the jobs she did for her mother (apparently, she was given little time off for playing).

My mum then started talking about her experiences as a teenager and her early work experiences (she went to work at 14). She was just getting onto courtship rituals when she was rescued by other family members. The whole process had taken 3 hours. The main reason for this as we had to shoot the same scene several times. Mum got nervous about appearing on film and kept on making mistakes. She insisted on getting it right and demanded a re-run.

Everybody was very impressed when they saw the video (it lasted less than 4 minutes). However, I realised I had made a serious mistake doing it the way that I did. I have decided to audio tape the interview. I will then match the tape with the photographs. When this is done I will add the live footage of her talking about the changes that have taken place.

My mum phoned me up on Sunday morning to tell me she survived the ordeal. She also said how much she enjoyed it and cannot wait for the next session. It will not be long before she starts looking for an agent.

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I teach AP Government and World Studies on the high school level in NJ, I was a web programmer. I have an interest in teaching, history and the Kennedy Assassination. I have presented at numerous JFK assassination conventions, including the Wecht conference.

I've seen something you have proposed that resembles something I want to do with my classes. This will be my second year of teaching World Studies. We go from the Renaissance to WWI. In my U.S. I class last year, at the end of the year, I started to assign my class demographic profiles based on statistics on, for instance, the U.S. Civil War. I would proportionally divide the class up, for example, into North and South, age, occupation, etc. I want to expand this into a full-blown simulation similar to some of the ideas I've seen proposed on your forum. Namely, I want to do something like take demographic information on Germany during the early 16th century, and divide the class up proportionally. I would do the same thing for other events, like France during the French Revolution. I would then not only have the class draw general impressions on the populations of the time, but then develop a series of lessons that use role play based on those demographics. That being said, I need to know if and how and where I could find even semi-reliable statistical information covering a whole range of time periods, events, etc.

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Fining demographic information about Germany in the 16th century might be rather difficult. One main source are the lists of christenings and deaths which were kept in and by the churche and monasteries. The 16th century was a rather tumultuous century with the Reformation, and the Peasant's War during which many church documents were destroyed. Another aspect which makes studying German history so difficult is that even though there was the Holy Roman Empire Germany was divided into many different parts governed by more or less independent dukes and princes and of course each part had its own way of registering its population (or not registering it at all).

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I've seen something you have proposed that resembles something I want to do with my classes.  This will be my second year of teaching World Studies.  We go from the Renaissance to WWI.  In my U.S. I class last year, at the end of the year, I started to assign my class demographic profiles based on statistics on, for instance, the U.S. Civil War. I would proportionally divide the class up, for example, into North and South, age, occupation, etc.  I want to expand this into a full-blown simulation similar to some of the ideas I've seen proposed on your forum.  Namely, I want to do something like take demographic information on Germany during the early 16th century, and divide the class up proportionally. I would do the same thing for other events, like France during the French Revolution. I would then not only have the class draw general impressions on the populations of the time, but then develop a series of lessons that use role play based on those demographics.  That being said, I need to know if and how and where I could find even semi-reliable statistical information covering a whole range of time periods, events, etc.

I don’t know of a website or book that provides this sort of background information. I would have thought it would have been better to have used real people for this proposed simulation. For example, there are 258 biographies on my website on the Civil War:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcivilwarC.htm

You will also find similar numbers for any simulations on the two wars.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWW.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WW.htm

I cannot help you with the Renaissance or the French Revolution but I am sure there are websites out there that will provide you with the necessary biographies.

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I intend to carry out these sort of video interviews with several elderly women (among them my 84 years old mother) and try to record their memories of some key moments in her life.

One of the earliest memories of my mother is all her family attending to Pablo Iglesias' (founder of Spanish Socialist Party) funeral procession. I am interested in asking them not only on historical events (civil war, Franco's dictatorship) and the way they affected women's life, but also on women's daily life and its evolution over the last century.

I think this is one of the most interesting developments as far as historians are concerned. As the speed of the internet increases it will be possible to create databases of interview segments that will cover all aspects of recent history.

Another interesting development is the way that forums like this will be used to debate controversial historical issues. See for example these two section of the Forum:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=179

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=163

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Kjell Salvanes of the Norwegian School of Economics today presented information about some important educational research (2005 World Congress of the Econometric Society). Working with colleagues, Salvanes analysed the entire population of Norway aged 16-74 between the years 1986 and 2000.

The research discovered that younger children do less well in terms of overall educational attainment than their older brothers and sisters. A first child is typically at least a year ahead of the third born brother or sister at the equivalent stage at school.

There are two main reasons for this. Parents spend much more time with their first child in the early years. Much of this contact is educational. As other children are born, the parents spend less time with each individual child. The other children have less time to catch up with the advantages enjoyed by the first born.

The second reason is more profound and something I have argued earlier on this thread. It is that the eldest child acts as a teacher for the younger children and learns how to organize information and present it to others. As we all know, the best way to learn something is to teach it.

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