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John Kelly

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Posts posted by John Kelly

  1. I am a small business owner in North Queensland and an amateur historian. Of particular interest are the controversial assassinations of the 1960's. I stumbled across the Education Forum and found it to be a wealth of information and hope that I can contribute something to the various discussions.

  2. When I say the admiration is perverse please take it with slice of satire and a pinch of truth. I have several points to raise with you about your response.

    1. Why are you grateful that that Saddam's reign of terror is over in Iraq? He was a terrorist, but for a long while he was Capitol Hill sponsered terrorist, which by definition becomes something along the lines of "rules a lawless country with a iron fist." "Pro-active in use of force against militants." Or other such terminology. He was also very much liked in the U.K as he gave us a barrier against the 'evil' Iranians. I would also argue over the idea that as you say "he gassed his own people." Gas incidently that was bought from the West and was sanctioned by the West for deployment against the Iranians. I feel sure that the Kurdish minorities would certainly argue that Saddam was not at that point "their leader." And I would also highlight the point that the Iranians then must have been sub-human when we sold Saddam the gas, because we happy to him to use that gas in the eight year war. If gas is so inhumaine, why do we still sell it countries around the world?

    Tony Blair has not gassed his own people, but if this the yard stick by which you measure a good and bad leader then your standards are quite low. "Sharon is not as bad a Hilter."

    But how does this impinge upon your life? Quite clearly the world is not a safer place with Saddam gone, it has got worse. The worsing of world safety was not established by one small Middle Easten dictator, but by a bullish British and American foreign policy towards a very complicated problem, which was never to be solved by invading a oil rich tin-pot dicator country. The point I was trying to make is that you cannot win a war on terror with carpet bombs as modern terrorism quite clearly is about more covert means of operation.

    2. "Thats why we should strive as hard as possible to avoid conflcit." This is the point I'm stressing, we not striving as hard as possible to avoid conflict. Why did most of Europe vote not to attack Iraq, they were striving hard to avoid conflict, while our country was backing America all the way. One million people marched on the streets to avoid the war, the government lied to us about the motivation behind going to war, this is all very important when we consider that a terrorist acts to further his political or social agenda. If you don't believe that Bush and Blair have a political and social agenda in invading Iraq, I fear there is no common ground between our viewpoints.

    3. Do you really think becoming a sucide bomber is "easy" way out, regardless of religious indoctrination. They are fighting a personal war, sometimes out of necessity, such as the Palestinians. Israeli has constantly broken U.N resolutions but the rest of the world gives no support to the Palestinians. Iraq allegedly breaks one resolution and this becomes grounds for invasion? And yes as I orginally stated, I do have a certain sense of admiration for a person who is willing to take their own life in the belief that they have a just cause. And as for Bush, he dodged the Vietnam war, he has no right to sending troops in battle.

    4. "Some times it takes courage to stand up to moral barbarism and say enough is enough." Your statement is far too simplistic. Iraq was not a threat to us, that has been now proven, so attacking a country whose army was no match to the combined military might of America and Britain is not in my opinion an example of courage. And if as you say we must stand up to these countries, why has nobody invaded North Korea? The answer is North Korea is a nuclear power and will use those weapons if attacked. The message sent out to terrorists is, if you can arm youself with bigger weapons than us, then we'll basic allow you to do what you like.

    Who are you to define what moral barbarism is to other people in the world? Why are your beliefs so special and should be observed around the entire globe? Infact I see nearly every excess and example of greed and human suffering in the West. People who eat until they are too fat to move. Kids who shoot other kids because of video games. People who are "pro-life" killing doctors. MacDonald destroying our Rainforests for 99p burger deals. Music so devoid of any intelligence or creativity that boy bands cover other boy bands music. A government that lied to its population. A moron in charge in the White House, who believes that Nigeria is big continent. We are not bringing the light of democracy to the heathens of the Middle East or morally crusading around the world wiping out all the "evil," we are in the case of Iraq a new breed of robber barons.

  3. This is the google found definition of terrorism as defined by the FBI, "the unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives". This definition includes three elements: (1) Terrorist activities are illegal and involve the use of force. (2) The actions are intended to intimidate or coerce. (3) The actions are committed in support of political or social objectives.

    It seems clear that actions in the neighbouring country of Chechnya clearly fit in this definition of terrorism. But surely the hypocracy of the defintion screams at everyone when we compare this defintion to our actions over the last three years in Middle East and indeed the last thousand years with our interaction with the rest of the world.

    In a very purverse way I admire terrorists the who walk into a bus station and blow themselves up. If T. Blair and G.Bush had enough courage in their beliefs then clearly we would have seen them on the frontline in Iraq. As it is, we in Britian are all terrorists, because we don't actively take action against the known terrorists in this country, which is our government, as according to the FBI definition of terrorism. I keep informing the FBI via e-mail that I know the exact address of Britain's biggest terrorist, but they don't seem interested in searching Number 10. I think they might find some conclusive evidence of terrorist acts. As Malcom X said, "If your not part of the solution, your part of the problem."

    Yes - 300 dead children is not a special day to remember, but how many bombs that I've paid for in tax have killed children this week in Iraq? No-one knows, or really cares. You start to care when it's your child that has just been blown to bits, as September 11th clearly shows.

    Definitions are clearly misleading these days. "Blue on Blue" No a collosial error of judgement.

    How is war is terror won when we are not targeting terrorist, but countries we in our judegment claim are terrorists? To rid the world of "evil-doers" and "not let evil stand." When we still are supplying "evil-doers" with arms and guns. But not the best arms, because we keep them for ourselves when we need to attack these "evil doers."

    If we attach immoral attributes to terrorists, which we then act upon in manner that causes innocent loss of life, we must examine ourselves with the same moral standard we judge others by. A simple enough mantra.

  4. The the books that altered my perception of life were - 1. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marques 2. A Man for all Seasons - (Play) Roger Bolt 3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson. If you haven't read and of these books I highly recommend them. All historians must also read American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand by James Elroy.

  5. A brief note to say,

    That I'm very sorry about my last message on this forum. I have recently been fighting with my own educational demons and that night in particular my demons won. I believe in the due process of education and I take back any comment which might have caused offense to any member of this forum.

    Please accept my heart felt apology.

    Yours Faithfully

    John Kelly

  6. I think the most important point I would like to make on this topic, is that I believe we are failing as history teachers. Lately have examined and re-examined my motivation for entering the history classroom. My Grade 12 IB class who are just about to leave for university have categorically told me that my history class was the most interesting and challenging class they took this semester. Yet not one of them is going to study history at university. The vast majority are studying either business or economics. One is going in the army! When I aked why they decided to study these subjects the overwhelming response was "We don't want to be poor, we want to be rich and wealthy."

    Does it really matter what is on an history curriculum, when history is only one small part of system that now has too much emphasis on money, league tables, performance related pay, and whole host of external factors to the history class room which erode our best efforts to challenge the preconceived doctrines of the modern world? I don't know.

    I believe very strongly now that my history teaching can only be overtly political. Many teachers will disagree and have disagreed with me. The arguements against overt historical political teaching are very intelligent and salient. If, that is, the world was based on freedom of speech and basic principles of democracy. But it is not, and I will not help to contribute to this political apathy which smothering our world and spinning mankind out of control.

    I'm sure every person who lived has felt that they are living in the most important era of mankind, however, I strongly feel that we are living through the most important era of mankind, the pivotal period, in which we could very soon find our society in ruins. Evidence would suggest that if we don't stop failing as decent human people we won't have another hundred years worth of history to discuss. I will not listen to any more right wing, Bush/Blair, American, British, imperialistic, colonial rhetoric without doing my bit to make my students very critical of these ideas. Why?

    “The aim of the historian, like that of the artist, is to enlarge our picture of the world, to give us a new way of looking at things.” (James Joll)

    “The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present.” (G. K. Chesterton)

    “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (H. G. Wells)

    “More history is made by secret handshakes than by battles, bills and proclamations.” (John Barth)

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

    “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” (Voltaire)

    Perhaps it is in our nature to ultimately destroy ourselves through war, greed and power. I do think together we could turn this trend around, but this would mean adopting John Simkin international curriculum and teaching like we mean it.

    Either that or few molotov making classes.

  7. Subverting people not to go war, unless absolutely necessary, are the only true heroes in any war.

    With regards to the Vietnam war, I think saying that they were betrayed by internal American politics is an understatement. I've seen many different numbers estimating how many died in Cambodia, Loas and Vietnam, but we can be sure the numbers are between 2-3 million. Not even starting to count the long term effects of the 23 million tonnes of Agent Orange dropped on the country.

    People who flew aeroplanes over Vietnam are in my opinion not heroes. Their superiors are war criminals.

    What about the Korean war, that left over 3 million causlities? MacAurthur's direct orders were to burn every installation, factory city and village in the north and much of the South.

    Overall in ten year period America dropped 15 million tons of explosives on Indochina, comparable to over 600 Hiroshima type atomic bombs.

    Then there is the support of the take over of East timor leaving 200,000 dead. That was one third of the population. That is supporting genocide.

    Gutemala, Argentina, Chile, Iraq, Iran, Paraguay, El Salvador, Iran , Zaire, Phillipines.

    Very heroic indeed.

  8. Austen - I have a lot to discuss with you, however, I am very busy over the next couple of days. If you can be patient I will reply to all of the points you have put to me in your lenghtly post. I cannot agree with you about most of what you say, but I think it will benefit both myself and yourself, to discuss what is obviously a matter close to your nationality, religion and your heart. I would like to point out to you on personal point, that this is an educational forum and comments as such "What planet do you live on..." have no place in this arena. Lastly I do thank you for your time in this debate.

  9. One of the most interesting questions about the Middle East is, why do so many people single out Israel as one of the most important issues in the global arena?

    There are many reasons for this in my opinion. The tight relationship with America consistantly puts the issue in the press, and more coverage is given to the Arab-Israeli conflict, than Chechnya, Cuba, Columbia or Tibet, which are as pressing world issues and need attention.

    Also there is the clash of religious beliefs which creates strong feelings in Jewish households, Christian households and Arab households. Hebron and Jerusalem hold powerful positions in all three religions.

    Yet I believe the Arab-Isreali conflict strikes at the very heart of the human consciousness. Centuries of persecution and then Holocaust have all been contributed by the Jewish community to create the state of Israel. This is huge cultural burden for any set of people interested in creating their own community. This coupled with the fact that Israel propagates the image that they are 'the only democracy in the Middle East,' creates such an uneasy tension about human rights abuse and the right of the Jewish people to have a free country.

    I think Isreal is the only democracy in the Middle East, as it fits all the 21st century criteria of a democracy. Human rights abuse, corrupt politicans, lack of any grassroots democracy, a McDonalds on every corner.

    So has Israel learnt anything from History?

    Perhaps the lesson has been learned too well by Israel. If for centuries a group of people (i.e - The Jewish diaspora) are hounded and the subjected to a plan to wipe them from the face of the earth, it can be rationalised that have a right to create a safe haven for Jewish people. If necessary to be taken by force. Isn't that what America and Britain have done for centuries before Israel? When I look at Irsael I see the massacre of the Native American Indians, the colonialsation of Africa. Crimes that have been commited to create a country.

    Do I as white British person, non religious, coming from a position of affluence due to exploitation of my fathers and grandfarthers, have the right to say that what Israel is doing right now is in any why as bad as what the Britain has just done to Iraq? Maybe people in Britain and America should put more effort in holding their own countries to account rather than meddling in the affairs of others.

    This is why in my opinion this issue strikes at our sub-consciousness. We can see in this slice of history the true human form unveiled, the real manifestation of mankind's hatred of other people. The lack of understanding between cultures, the inabillity to tolerate other people. I see myself in this conflict.

    This is why I say "I think Isreal has learnt from the past." Now it has guns and tanks and attack helicopters and is perpared to butcher people for what it wants it is ready to join hands with us in the West. Welcome to the Western World Israel - I hope its all you dreamed it was.

  10. On the nature of the topic, I would like to suggest the Holocaust as a possible topic. Simply because I've just finished work on the Holocaust and would be interested in the outcome of this debate.

    Other than this topic I would like to suggest -

    The War in Iraq and current American foreign policy.

    Or as it first attempt - What about something more universal such as 'What is the point of education?'

    Or what about matching topics from the teachers area to the student area? Nationalism in teaching?

  11. One of the wider points I want to highlight and this could very easily cross over into the debate of Nationalism on this forum, is that the German government and the German people have taken real measures to try deal with this the Holocaust. I was delighted to hear from Ulrike that at her school some neo-nazi poster were seen on campus and the students held a huge demonstration, organised and created by the students against these posters. I think I'm also correct in saying Germany has the highest voting turn out of any European country. The impression I get, is that German people are engaged in grass-root politics in positive way and are willing to accept the national significance of the Holocaust.

    If we compare this to Britain then if neo-nazi posters went up at schools in Manchester, the majority of students would simply walk past and ignore them, not even contemplating the wider significance of the posters. And I think I'm also correct in saying Britian has the lowest voting turn out of any European country.

    In part I think the reason for this lack of awarness due to nationalistic history teaching, which promotes a non-critical reflection of our society. In turn promoting a non-critical reflection of any political party or politcial system.

  12. This is huge problem with aid. A few years ago Mark Thomas based one of his shows around this issue. Corporations actually make money by giving away useless goods as foreign aid. When these countries are desperate for basic medical supplies, we send over out of date contact lenses, or an obsolete dialasis machine, or other medical goods, which would be costly to destroy in Britain. Cheaper to give away in aid.

    Why does a socialist government allow this practice to continue? As if it wasn't bad enough to be amongst the poorest nations on earth, mutinational-coporations compond this misery on almost comedic proportions.

    All they want is basic supplies and we send Hormone Replacement tables. Thanks.

  13. I think the idea, 'Have we learned anything from the past?' is perfect way to phrase a unit of work about the Holocaust.

    There are several points here I would like to make to different points on this thread.

    I do stick by my orginal feelings on this issue, that there is a implicit scale system of genocide introduced by Western indoctrination, which places the Holocaust as the worst ever example of racial genocide, and therefore in some ways detracts from acts of genocide, racial or non-racial, that our country and other Western countries have committed post 1945. The Holocaust is consistantly used as reference point for all other genocidal acts, due to premeditation of the acts, the intensity of the crimes, and the scale and scope of the mass murder. We are Europeans, so it is important that the Holocaust is taught in European schools, but I feel it is important that is not exclusively the Holocaust that is taught as the only example of genocide, as this negates our responsibilty for our current acts of murder and supporting regimes that murder people around the world. Or if we are to teach about the bombing of Hiroshima or the carpet bombings of Vietnam, or the landmines in Cambodia, or the Russian persecution of Chechians, or the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, or British and Americans persecution of the Iraqis or the thousand other acts of aggression that have been committed since the Holocaust, then we call these acts genocide in our history books.

    With Rwanda in mind and the first weeks of April in 1994, there is a strong argument that says the British, American, French and Belgium, knew that genocidal tension was growing in Rwanda and did nothing to stop these acts. Belgium actually removed troops from the area. America did not act because they didn't want to get involoved in another peacekeeping mission after Somalia. The point that really upsets me, is that this was an act of medieval genocide. The weapons used were mostly knives and blades. A ground force of over 500 US or British marines could have had essentially stopped the genocide in days and saved many lives.

    At the same time in 1994 it was revealed that British and US sanctions on Iraq were causing the estimate deaths of 2000 infants per month. A figure that now stands at close to one million deaths due to ten years of sanctions. The reason for these sanctions, was as we were led to believe, to stop Saddam producing weapons of mass destruction, which he never had and never did. Also we couldn't find anyone 'we wanted' to replace him with. The principles of our liberal consciousness were once again laid open for all to see.

    These to me are acts of genocide comparable to the Holocaust in intent, which the British and the West have committed with no remorse. We talk about Hitler's willing executioners, by simply supporting the US over the last twelve months Britain has become America's willing executioners in Iraq.

    The persecution of Palestinians by Israel - As person of my own mind and with the abillity to express my opinion on this subject, in this an open forum - I cannot allow anyone to express on opinion without my challenge, that suggests that Israel is not persecuting the Palestinians. This is open fact, in which every major aid agency supports. Basic human rights of the Palestinians are being neglected on every level by the Israeli government. There are very vocal sections of the Jewish community that do not advocate this violence, these groups, such as Jews for Justice, I wholeheartly support. As there are very vocal sections of the Arab community that do not support suicide bombings, whom I also support. What I don't support are Israeli attack helicopters, bought by American tax payers, flying through settlements shooting at water towers and innocent people in the name of bigger Israel. Or suicide bombers blowing themselves up on school buses in the name of Allah. In my opinion the biggest threat to middle east stabillity has always been the Israel-Palestinian issue. Conversely it could also be the biggest gateway for middle-east peace.

    On the issue of teaching the Holocaust - I do not wish to downplay the importence of these acts, but really to highlight the importence of current acts of genocide which my country has committed and of which I am ashamed. Which I feel should be discussed in British classrooms.

    I thank Dan for responding to my ideas in a measured and intellectual manner stating where he disagrees, only in part, with my ideas, which is nothing less than what I would expect from any member on this forum who wishes to debate an historical topic. I would ask others, if anyone disagrees with my comments, which are radically charged I admit, to please state the precise counter arguement to my points, instaed of just labelling me as vitriolic.

  14. There is a huge amount of power within the youth of today in Britain. The problem is no one has worked out how to harness this power. I believe it can be harnessed, but the issues have to be relevant to the people. I know there is solidarity in the youth of Britain. I'm also convinced that young people although not necessarily becoming more politicised, are becoming more aware of issues that will effect future generations and their own lives. If there was ever a class of people more willing to embrace a stance which is anti mutinational, anti war, pro environment, then it is the youth generation, beacuse these values are the mirror opposite of the government and politicians stance on global and internal affairs. The young are more racially tolerant, most young people have an array of different ethnicities as friendship groups.

    Not one of friends was pro-war in Iraq. Every one of my friends is pro choice. Not one of my friend is pro corporate-globalisation. Everyone of my friends uses the internet everyday. Not one of friends does not understand that environment needs help. Every one of my friends understand that all politicians do is lie. The point is that there is a groundswell of anger against this government, and against the current political climate which is embodied by the views of the youth generation.

    When the government talk about apathy it is lie. It is a simple case of disenfranchisement. This will not change with the introduction of another school subject called citizenship.

  15. A good web-site to visit is Jews for Justice - www.jfjfp.org Or try typing in 'Self Hating Jews' into google for a interesting perspective. Noam Chomsky and Woody Allen make this list.

    This is how I feel about teaching the Holocaust from a British perspective.

    What most concerns me about the Holocaust and teaching the Holocaust to our students is the huge emphasis that is always put upon the idea, "This must never be allowed to happen again." Which is of course buttresses the idea that this was the last act of genocide to happen on the planet in the last 59 years. The Isreali's have been pursuing a policy of racial genocide against the Arabs since the Holocaust. I find it hypocritical to devote teaching time to the Holocaust without then subsequently talking about the genocide of the Palenstinians, Kurds, Cambodians etc... A key question is; why has the Holocaust become so entrenched in our consciousness, that our government feel the need to hightlight this the only act of genocide worth studying? Or to re-phrase this quection; when we study Vietnam, or the events at Hiroshima, why do we not also call these events genocidal?

    When teaching in Briatin I was disgusted to find that the chapter in the text book of the bombing of Hiroshima, wanted students to debate that it was right to drop the atomic bomb. This shows a blatent contradiction in how we deal with acts of mass murder.

    It is also wrong in my view, to portray the systematic execution of the Jews, as a crime which is in someways worse than other crimes. Depicting the Holocaust as the ultimate act of evil, somehow makes other acts of seem 'less evil' and detracts from all the misery and suffering that other people in the world have endured, due to Western foreign policy. This buttresses the idea that Jewish lives and Europeans lives, are worth more than South East Asian lives, or South American lives or Arab lives or African lives. In teaching British history why not cast aside the Holocaust and devote that time of looking at our own acts of genocide. We don't need to spend any time looking at other countries crimes, we have enough of our own to look at.

    I don't either want to downplay or minimise the attrocities of the Holocaust, but elevating the Holocaust above other acts of genocide is I feel is dangerous.

  16. I've found my experience of teaching abroad in China, hugely beneficial, both personally and I hope professionally.

    After I completed my P.G.C.E, I felt that the NQT qualificational status was just another hurdle which I did not wish to jump through. My two biggest problems teaching on the P.G.C.E, were class managment and utter lack of time. No time to put any thought into planning my lessons. No time to eat, sleep, or be a human being. How this was going to get any better with a 100% timetable on the NQT year, instead of an 80% timetable on the P.G.C.E was beyond me. A cycle of depression was settling upon my brow and I just could not face another year of the 'great paper chase.' Receiving verbal abuse everday and coming home feeling useless. And I must stress, without learning anything about teaching. My feelings about the P.G.C.E are hugely negative.

    So I decided quite early in spring that I was only going to apply to International schools. By luck and chance my flatmate had left China and Shanghai High International School to come back to get qualified on the same course I was. He gave me the contact details of the school and a letter of recommendation. A phone interview later and I moved to Shanghai.

    Shanghai High International School is a unique school. It is one of only two International schools in China which are state affiliated and run by Chinese teachers. We have over 1150 students. This figure has risen from 10 pupils when it opened 10 years ago to today's current figure. The school now offers a full IB programme and a relatively full curiculum. My direct boss in the History department is an 'old school' Chinese Communist. My adminstrative boss is a Master Teacher, a title which carries a huge amount of weight and personal prestige in Chinese academic circles. The principal of the school is hugely influencial member of the party, his presence is felt in Shanghai and Beijing.

    It was not until Shanghai opened its doors 10 years ago, that the government would allow International Schools. The school, therefore, is brand new. We have overhead projectors in each room etc...

    My personal benefit has been in the language. I've had a chance to learn to new language, which is Chinese. Not everyday did I get this sort of chance in Manchester. Plus the salary has been great. I've saved more here in China in eighteen months than I could have done in three years teaching in the U.K. Which although no-one likes to admit, because we are all in it for the love of history, is fantastic. Since I've been in China I've visited Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Xian, Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, ChongChing..... I've had about eight hoildays of a lifetime, in the space of eighteen months.

    Professionally - All I can say is that here in my school I now get ample time to prepare lessons. I was teaching IB history in my first year and now IB English in my second. In any one day I might spend the morning finger painting with Year 5, then launch into dicussing the effect, causes and practices of war with Year 12 in the afternoon. The pupils have a wonderful mentality. They are great kids, who will stop throwing things when you ask first time. The pupils have made the experience worthwhile. This is the job in which every NQT should get. Responsive pupils, critical time to reflect, ample time to prepare. It was wonderful to know that wasn't my fault that I got such a bad report from my last teaching practice in Britain beacuse I was bad teacher, it was because the pupils were very poorly disciplined and the course was about ten years out of date.

    Instead of digging my heels in for two years in a comprehensive environment just to achieve a 'status quo', I've been hotseating, mind-mapping, and backflipping around, in highly stimulating environment.

    I would recommend you consider moving to an International environment, as it is a great experience, especially if you are young and have curiousity about the wider world.

  17. My name is John Kelly and this is only my second year teaching. I live and work at Shanghai High International School. This year I'm teaching IB English. My school is one of only two schools in China which is party funded. We are bi-lingual in Chinese and English. Our school is over 150 years old, but the international division is only ten years old. In the past ten years the number of pupils in the international division has risen from 7 in 1993, to 1150 in 2003.

    I have found educational forums vital to my job. This forum has some excellent members who have always taken the time to answer my questions in great detail. I hope this forum will become a lively place to discuss current social, political historical and educational issues and challenge some of the anachronistic ideas that I have found in British and International educators.

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