Author Topic: For the Brits - opinions solicited!  (Read 4105 times)

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emwithme

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2013, 12:53:36 PM »
Faithlessone, are you an Old Wallensian? 

GSNW

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2013, 07:39:27 PM »
Thanks everyone for the awesome replies so far!  This has given me a lot to go off of.  I'm hoping to engage the kids in a sort of debate, but really, I'd just like them to see that our way isn't the only way and that other countries have a lot of success doing things differently.  The hereditary and lifetime peers in the House of Lords is a subject I find pretty fascinating... esp since the reasoning for appointing lifetime peers based on expertise and having them weigh in on important issues seems to make a lot of sense to me. 

I've ordered a copy of the suggested book and I'd love any other suggestions you guys have!

To answer a question, I normally teach science, but since we had some budget issues and we're only staffed at 93% of our enrollment, they are buying preps this year to teach the explorations electives classes, and they're trying to create a bunch of different ones tailored to specific needs (there is a class exclusively for repeaters, classes to help with math or ELA deficiencies, etc).  Mine is meant to be the "good students who don't have an interest in fine arts" kind of class, so I'm really excited about what I might be able to accomplish with these kids.  When I said, "What do you want me to teach?", they said, "Anything you want," so that has left me scheming all summer.

The basic outline of the class is:

-VERY brief overview of the Roman Empire, pros and cons
-Fall of Rome, Visigoths
-Dark Ages (500-1500 loosely), inc Justinian, Clovis, Charlemagne, Black Death, Vikings
-After Dark Ages, focus on the history of the British monarchy
-Modern England, cultural/governmental differences (I also like the idea of looking at differences in education)

I also want to pepper in the "mysteries" and ask kids to discuss/take a stance, things like the boys in the tower, did Charlemagne really poison his brother, etc.  The fact is that these kids will get almost zero European history unless they choose to take it in college, and while I want them to be knowledgeable about their own country, I desperately want to give them another perspective.  I can give a broader view the further back in history we are, but since I only have a semester, I need to narrow down as we come to the modern day.  I think telling some of the more interesting stories of more colorful characters of the past will be fun, too... middle school kids can be bribed to listen to scandal!
« Last Edit: July 25, 2013, 08:40:15 PM by GSNW »

Sharnita

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2013, 09:34:11 PM »
Any way you could work in the Protestant Reformation as a whole? The religious, evonomic, politicaland military implications reached far beyond Europe and still.impact people today.

GSNW

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2013, 12:28:26 AM »
Yes, reformists and reformers in general will definitely be part of it - there are so many stories that can't be told without that facet!  Just talking about many of the important players in the Tudor court, you can't forget the underlying reformers vs Catholics struggle.

Just casually talking current events with kids last year, I was shocked at how many were oblivious to the whole pope quitting thing - some even said, "What's a pope?"  The leadership of different churches doesn't affect me in any way, but I still think the dynamics are very interesting.

faithlessone

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2013, 03:11:23 AM »
Faithlessone, are you an Old Wallensian? 

Um... yes? (It's spelt Wellensian, though!)

ETA: GNSW - That sounds like a really brilliant class!! I think the kids will really enjoy it. :D
« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 03:16:50 AM by faithlessone »

Nibsey

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2013, 07:41:47 AM »
Please do me one favour, explain to your students that the dark ages weren't actually dark. You may or may not already know this but most historians don't use this term anymore instead they use Middle Ages. This is because the term dark ages perpetuate the myth that this period was somehow backward when nothing could further from the truth. This quote pretty much sums it up;
"Medievalists have been at (largely unsuccessful) pains to convince their students that the "Dark Ages" is a misnomer, that the centuries between 500 and 1500 saw not only the birth of Europe but the beginnings of parliamentary democracy, romantic affection, universities, and even the discovery of the individual as a complex, internally contradictory agent in uneasy relation to society. "

I have to spend at least 30 minutes at the start of every year dismantling all the historical myths like the church suppressed scientific knowledge or that people thought the world was flat or my favourite that people were somehow more superstitious than before.  ;D

ETA: I'd recommended a documentary series called "How The Celts Saved Britain" which is really good and looks at this area in relation to Britain and Ireland.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 07:45:43 AM by Nibsey »
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GSNW

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2013, 02:32:33 PM »
When I think "Dark Ages," I don't think helpless bozos so much as I think of a really difficult time to live in.  It's fun to compare all the conveniences we enjoy and expect today to a time when many of those things simply were not an option. 

emwithme

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2013, 05:29:44 PM »
Faithlessone, are you an Old Wallensian? 

Um... yes? (It's spelt Wellensian, though!)

ETA: GNSW - That sounds like a really brilliant class!! I think the kids will really enjoy it. :D

Sorry to have confused you (and to have mis-spelled Wellensian) - my DH is one of you!  He's one of the few OW's who isn't musical AT ALL though (he cannot carry a tune given a whole wheelbarrow full of buckets), he attended because he grew up locally (and his parents aren't catholic enough for Downside or rich enough for Millfield)

Thipu1

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2013, 07:15:37 PM »
When I think "Dark Ages," I don't think helpless bozos so much as I think of a really difficult time to live in.  It's fun to compare all the conveniences we enjoy and expect today to a time when many of those things simply were not an option.

Amen GSNW,

We read about times when the ordinary people ate 'roots and leaves'.  This gives the impression that they were crawling around the floor of the forest (in which they were not allowed to hunt) grabbing whatever they could. 

In fact, these people were often eating highly nutritious food such as beets and turnips (roots) and the greens associated with these plants (leaves) while the upper classes ate meat and little else. 

I know this is getting way OT, but the following books are fascinating topics for discussion

Hartley, Dorothy.  'Lost Country Life: How English country folk lived, worked, threshed, thatched, rolled fleece, milled corn, brewed mead...'. New York : Pantheon, 1979.

Lacey, Robert and Danny Danziger.  'The Year 1000: what life was like at the turn of the first millennium' (Boston?) : Back Bay, 1999. 

Bryson, Bill. 'At Home : a short history of private life'. London : Black Swan, 2011.   

scotcat60

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2013, 12:59:12 PM »
Some intersting books are all by Jeremy Paxman

"The English Portrait of a people"
"On Royalty"
"Empire What ruling the world did to the English"

I think a lot of people are very interested in Royalty, you have only to see how stockists sell out of the styles of dresses that Kate Cambridge wears, and also there has been a run on the shawl won by Prince George for his first photocall.  I do think however, that we are not so in awe of the artistocracy, and certainly not of monarchy, which is a good thing. Two World Wars and beter woking conditions changed that.
 
The Royals are just human beings, not deities, and in recent years they have displayed this only too often. But their own attitude has been change and adapt. Time was that all the family married titles, now commoners are marrying into the family, though they tend not to come from council estates. And although the children of the Royal Dukes like Kent and Gloucester are part of the Royal Family, they are not the foundation stone laying, ribbon cutting,  royals that they would have been years ago.

« Last Edit: July 28, 2013, 02:40:00 AM by scotcat60 »

GSNW

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2013, 04:09:58 PM »

I think a lot of people are very interested in Royalty, you have only to see how stockists sell out of the styles of dresses that Kate Cambridge wears, and also there has been a run on the shawl won by Prince George for his first photocall.  I do think however, that we are not so in awe of the artistocracy, and certainly not of monarchy, which is a good thing. Two World Wars and beter woking conditions changed that.
 

Agreed!  British royalty in general -- I know other countries have their royals, but the Brits certainly seem to grab most of the headlines for do-gooding and interesting adventures.  It seems like Beatrix is just as much of a hard worker as Elizabeth II, but for some reason not as generally interesting. 

I also want to discuss the concept of ruling by divine right.  It certainly has diluted over the years if you look at ruling classes in general (Egyptian pharaohs were thought to be gods themselves, for example), down to put in place by God, down to hey... my dad was King so I'm in line for that, too.  It also seems that royals in the past 50 or so years have made a point of making themselves useful and not wanting, in general, to be seen as lazy drains on the economy.  I have a lot of admiration for Elizabeth II simply because she seems like a very strong-willed person who has a vision for how she would like her family to move forward.  I know we all say, oh, what a hard life with your estates and your secretaries and tailors and all, but I'm sure that life comes with a different sort of pressure.  I'm sitting at my desk looking borderline homeless and I'm about to go to Target in the same condition, and no one will say boo to me.

I am really loving this discussion, so thank you all!

scotcat60

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2013, 02:47:30 AM »
Please do me one favour, explain to your students that the dark ages weren't actually dark

True, there are many many absolutely beautiful artefacts in museums to prove this, i.e. the Sutton Hoo treasure.
Also, the Barbarians were not so barbarous, it was just  Roman propaganda of the "We are the cultured Romans, they are the uncouth Barbarians" type.

So what are what my teachers 50+ years ago called the Middle Ages i.e. mediaeval times, now known as?

scotcat60

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2013, 02:51:19 AM »
I also want to discuss the concept of ruling by divine right.  It certainly has diluted over the years if you look at ruling classes in general (Egyptian pharaohs were thought to be gods themselves, for example), down to put in place by God, down to hey... my dad was King so I'm in line for that, too

We had a king who believed that. He was called Charles I, and it ended on the block outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

Nibsey

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2013, 07:02:38 AM »
Please do me one favour, explain to your students that the dark ages weren't actually dark

True, there are many many absolutely beautiful artefacts in museums to prove this, i.e. the Sutton Hoo treasure.
Also, the Barbarians were not so barbarous, it was just  Roman propaganda of the "We are the cultured Romans, they are the uncouth Barbarians" type.

So what are what my teachers 50+ years ago called the Middle Ages i.e. mediaeval times, now known as?

The Middle ages. Just not the Dark ages.

Historical periods in Europe are roughly as follows;
Prehistory (used by Archaeology): The stone age
                                                The bronze age
                                                The Iron age
Classical antiquity (used by historians): Archaic Period (This is also the iron age) (700 BC - 100 AD)
                                                        Late Antiquity (100 AD - 500 AD)
                                                        Migration period 200 AD– 700 AD)
Middle Ages: Early Middle Ages (500 AD – 1000 AD)
                   High Middle Ages (1000 AD – 1300 AD)
                   Late Middle Ages (1300 AD – 1450 AD)
Early Modern (1450 AD - 1750 AD)
Modern History (1750 AD - now)




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paintpots

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Re: For the Brits - opinions solicited!
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2013, 06:57:26 AM »
Re class material, there was a calculator on the BBC website that you can use to work out what you are (I think there are now seven, but it's somewhat nebulous).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973

It's also worth digging around in the Comment sections of the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. They're a pretty good way of getting a feel for the different range of views in the UK (although I would say that the viewpoint of the average British person would fluctuate between the two and neither are entirely representative), and demonstrating journalistic bias.