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JFK Threads


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I understand that some people are obsessed with JFK, but I have to add my complaint to some others. It's pretty off putting to those who (believe it or not) have absolutely no interest in it. Is it possible to put all the new postings on the subject into one category so that the entire new postings list doesn't read JFK all the way down? I think you're in danger of driving people away from the site unless you do.

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Guest Adrian Dingle

Well said. Interesting debate it may be (to some), but education related? More and more politics I'm afraid.

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I have to agree. I've not read a single word of the JFK debates, as interesting as they might be, because its all a bit lost on me. Even today there are three educational posts vs about 15 JFK ones! I, like many others I suspect, have only read the educational ones.

Rowena

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I understand that some people are obsessed with JFK, but I have to add my complaint to some others. It's pretty off putting to those who (believe it or not) have absolutely no interest in it. Is it possible to put all the new postings on the subject into one category so that the entire new postings list doesn't read JFK all the way down? I think you're in danger of driving people away from the site unless you do.

I think to do that you would have to be looking at a separate forum but I'll look into it.

Adrian, the JFK section is about research which is of course educational. John Simkin intends to create a seminar resource for history teachers based on this research and will be delivering this seminar at the Schools History Project Annual Conference which also has aspirations to be educational!!

You have told me many times that you don't like "politics" but this does not necessarily mean that everything you dislike is "politics" ;)

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I do agree that the JFK debate does seem to have rather taken over this forum. Whilst I can appreciate that it is of great interest to some I also fear that new members in particular may be 'put off' as it appears that there is little other debate going on! I also admit to finding it of little interest :D

As I see it there are two possible solutions:

i) we should all try to increase postings on other educational issues - not easy for many of us who are also doing a full time teaching job in the middle of the exam season!

ii) as Andy indicates - perhaps the JFK debate would be better conducted in a separate forum!!

;)

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Members who want to by pass JFK when they log on to the forum might consider bookmarking THIS PAGE as their main entry point to the forum. This page allows you to go straight to a section you are interested in. Going to View Active Topics rather than going to View New Posts also gives you a better overview of what's going on across the whole forum.

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I agree as well. The JFK conspiracy stuff MAY the absorbingly interesting to some, but it does seem to be rather ubiquitous... I also get the excellent updates from the Spartacus KeepAhead... It used to have five or six really useful entries every week... Recently, it's tended to become more and more focused on the JFK assassination, something I don't teach, and, even if I did, would be unlikely to spend more than a couple of lessons on...

OK, it IS research, and therefore educational, but surely it's not the ONLY area in which educational research is taking place...

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I have been away in Sweden for the last week and therefore not had time to respond before to this thread.

I must say I was both surprised and disturbed by these comments. I think it shows teachers in a very poor light. I remember a very talented teacher resigning after only a year in the profession. I asked her why she was leaving. Her reply was very interesting. She said that teaching was changing her personality. She did not like these changes and decided to leave the profession before she was permanently damaged by her experiences. She cited two examples of this: a tendency to want to control and a tendency to be over critical of the behaviour of others. She went off to work for Oxfam (another one of those much maligned “do-gooders”).

Andrew Field posted this comment on the History Forum recently about his School History website: “With my site I have simply set it as a free resource and in some way use it as a shop window to illustrate my interest - hoping to help both my career and prospects of online work. However, in reality, there are a lot of people who take advantage and don't give anything back… I log on during the school day and find 140 people online and there are only a couple of e-mails - and they are simply insulting.”

My experience is very similar. On average I get over 6,000,000 page impressions a month. I must be doing something right but like Andrew most comments I get from teachers concern something they don’t like about the website. Those email praising the website invariably come from students or parents. Why are teachers like that?

Andy Walker, Richard Jones-Nervic and myself provide this forum free of charge. (Becta and the European Virtual School have removed funding for the site – maybe they also don’t like the section on JFK). I don’t expect teachers to thank us for this, but I don’t see why they need to complain about others making use of this forum.

I don’t think it is very polite way to treat people who did join the forum to post messages about the JFK assassination. I have had several emails from these people about this thread. They complain they have been made to feel very unwelcome on this forum.

Anyway, on to the points you have made.

I understand that some people are obsessed with JFK, but I have to add my complaint to some others. It's pretty off putting to those who (believe it or not) have absolutely no interest in it. Is it possible to put all the new postings on the subject into one category so that the entire new postings list doesn't read JFK all the way down? I think you're in danger of driving people away from the site unless you do. (Jay Walker, 20th May).

I cannot understand why members would be driven from the forum because others are posting comments about the JFK assassination. I would have thought the simple answer to this is not to read these postings.

It is true that some days that JFK postings dominate the “Today’s Active Topics”. This reflects the current concerns of our members. Like you I would like to see more postings in “Educational Debates” etc. I do what I can by posting on these issues but unfortunately not enough people are willing to get involved in these debates. We cannot force people to post on these subjects.

The “Today’s Active Topics” only show those postings made in the last 24 hours. The JFK threads do not delete reference to postings in other sections. To discover active topics over the last few days see the section at the top right of the page marked “show me active topics posted”.

I have to agree. I've not read a single word of the JFK debates, as interesting as they might be, because its all a bit lost on me. Even today there are three educational posts vs about 15 JFK ones! I, like many others I suspect, have only read the educational ones. (Rowena, 20th May)

Obviously we will all disagree about what subjects are important. I happened to believe that the assassination of JFK was one of the most important events of the 20th century. The reason for this is that the world’s dominant superpower had its elected leader removed by force because certain powerful groups disliked his new (and unannounced) foreign policy.

Well said. Interesting debate it may be (to some), but education related? More and more politics I'm afraid. (Adrian Dingle, 20th May)

It is true to some extent that all historical debate is in a sense political. However, it also true that all historical and political debate is educational. What you appear to be saying is that you do not like the political conclusions being drawn from these debates. That might be, but they are not grounds for arguing that these debates should not be taking place.

I know you have been applying pressure on the administrators to remove all the political debates from this forum. (Although you do seem interested in getting involved in some of these debates when it suits you). However, while the current administrators are in place: Andy Walker, Richard Jones-Nervic and myself, this will not happen.

I agree as well. The JFK conspiracy stuff MAY the absorbingly interesting to some, but it does seem to be rather ubiquitous... I also get the excellent updates from the Spartacus KeepAhead... It used to have five or six really useful entries every week... Recently, it's tended to become more and more focused on the JFK assassination, something I don't teach, and, even if I did, would be unlikely to spend more than a couple of lessons on... OK, it IS research, and therefore educational, but surely it's not the ONLY area in which educational research is taking place. (Mike Tribe)

I have to confess to being the person who writes : Teaching History Online (41,610 subscribers) and Education on the Internet (51,386 subscribers). It therefore reflects my current interests. I am currently working on the JFK section of my website and therefore in my research I come across websites on this subject. A few months ago you would have seen a lot of websites reviewed on the subject of the American West. Before that it was Civil Rights in the United States. That was because that was the sections I was working on then. In the next few months you will see plenty of reviews of websites on the Cold War, Ireland and the Olympic Games (the projects I will be working on over the next few months). I suspect I will upset people with those reviews as well. However, it is only a small minority I do upset. The level of subscriptions to these two newsletters has never been higher.

It is also worth considering the way I use the JFK forum. Every page in this section of my website (nearly 300 pages) has a link to the JFK forum. This is an attempt to create a dialogue between the author and his readers. In many cases, the members posting on the forum are the actual people I have been writing about. This is their right of reply. It also enables them and other experts in the field to correct mistakes that I have made in my text. This is a new development in historical writing and plan to pursue this approach in all my future work. This includes a research section on the Cold War. I have also had a request to start a research section on Environmental Issues. This we will do. Please feel free to make other suggestions and we will do what we can to please you.

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Guest Adrian Dingle

John

Here's the problem, it's really very simple. The forum administrators, moderators, most vociferous contributors and I, have completely different views about what is appropriate "educational" content. At the Education Forum I was expecting much more emphasis on Education according to my definition, rather than the much broader idea (that seems to be very popular) that everything is educational so it's all fair game!

My definition would include debate about schools, kids, lesson plans, government initiatives, professional development etc. but not about political issues that are (under my definition) unconnected to education.

Now, as I have stated before, the forum will be what it will be. It is only a reflection of what is contributed so I am not complaining. If that's what the members want, then so be it. But I had hoped that the moderators would see things from my point of view a little more, they clearly don't, and their particular bias is not really what I was looking for so I think it's time to sign off. It's a shame, because I thought this had the potential to be really useful.

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Our aims are really broad and can legitimately cover all of what we are trying to do - subject help forums for teachers, educational debate, international collaboration, and more recently specialised research. As administrators we could have perhaps explained this better to our members and structured it better on the forum, and as users they need to be a little more sophisticated perhaps in how they search the forum. There are ways in which sections of the forum can be made only visible to certain groups but this would be both very time consuming for me and restricting for users.

I rather like the fact however that members feel they are able to complain. There is a genuine commitment to free speech and debate here and the members of the forum really can make the forum whatever they want within the very broad aims of the administrators. The withdrawal of funding from Becta may have more to do with a distrust of this commitment than out of any concern over what has been posted recently.

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My definition would include debate about schools, kids, lesson plans, government initiatives, professional development etc. but not about political issues that are (under my definition) unconnected to education.

It is hard to talk about government initiatives meaningfully without discussing politics.

However all the things you list are core concerns of this forum. However if you examine the people who have actually posted in these areas you will notice that the main posters have been John and myself. We are, amongst other things, trying to get people to contribute in all these sections. I wish more members would start discussions, share ideas and resources in these sections. There is absolutely nothing stopping them doing this. They only have to Start a new thread an they are away :lol:

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My definition would include debate about schools, kids, lesson plans, government initiatives, professional development etc.

i'm slightly baffled by this comment, all of these ideas are certainly covered by this forum. Moreover, if that is what you want to debate then start threads on them! Simple! :lol:

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My definition would include debate about schools, kids, lesson plans, government initiatives, professional development etc.

i'm slightly baffled by this comment, all of these ideas are certainly covered by this forum. Moreover, if that is what you want to debate then start threads on them! Simple! :lol:

My point in a nutshell Lou - and great to see you back by the way :eat

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It occurs to me that another rather obvious thing that can be done when you log on and "View New Posts" when you see nothing of personal interest, is click on "Mark all posts as read". Next time you search you will only search for new posts and hopefully find something more appealing :lol:

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John, re your comments:

i)

I must say I was both surprised and disturbed by these comments. I think it shows teachers in a very poor light.

I was also surprised and disturbed that you felt it necessary to send each of us who had posted comments in this thread a personal copy of your views! Did you think that we would not bother to read them in the open forum? Did you feel the need to give us each an individual 'telling off'?

ii)

I don’t think it is very polite way to treat people who did join the forum to post messages about the JFK assassination. I have had several emails from these people about this thread. They complain they have been made to feel very unwelcome on this forum.

I don't think this is an issue about politeness. It is simply an observation that several (regular) members have made - the JFK debate seems to have started taken over the Education Forum. I also find it surprising that the complainants have not felt it appropriate to voice their views in the open forum. After your comments I now feel unwelcome for having voiced my opinions on this issue.

iii)

I cannot understand why members would be driven from the forum because others are posting comments about the JFK assassination.

Regular members will not be driven from the forum but I still maintain that new members or prospective members, interested in 'educational' threads, would feel less able to participate if they were seeing mainly JFK topics on the list of 'today's active topics'. Some people may not initially be as confident about navigating around to find other topics currently under discussion.

iv)

It is true that some days that JFK postings dominate the “Today’s Active Topics”. This reflects the current concerns of our members. Like you I would like to see more postings in “Educational Debates” etc. I do what I can by posting on these issues but unfortunately not enough people are willing to get involved in these debates. We cannot force people to post on these subjects.

You may have noticed that I have done my bit to help in this matter but I agree that we cannot force people to participate. We need to be a little more encouraging, however, to involve more people in the education threads. This means publicising the existence of the forum to more teachers across the subject range, not just through the history and politics websites enjoying large numbers of 'hits'. :lol:

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