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Teaching History Online

Number 123: 8th February, 2004


1. Training of History Teachers

2. Battlefield Anomalies

3. Bombing of Dresden

4. Nationalism and History Teaching

5. 200 Years of British Postal Markings

6. Question of Palestine

7. The Taking of America

8. Electronic Assassinations Newsletter

9. Child Labour in Britain: 1750-1870


Spartacus Educational publishes Teaching History Online every week. The newsletter includes news, reviews of websites and articles on using ICT in the history classroom. Members of the mailing list
are invited to submit information for inclusion in future editions of Teaching History Online. In this way we hope to create a community of people involved in using the Internet to teach history. Currently there are 34,600 subscribers to the newsletter.

John Simkin

Training of History Teachers: In this seminar Andy Walker argues that since the 1980s there has been a noticeable move away teacher training being seen as an at least in part “academic” discipline towards a model akin to that of a plumber’s apprenticeship. Student teachers today “learn on the job”, are immersed in schools, and are “trained” almost exclusively by practising teachers (some of whom trained in exactly the same way). He goes on to claim that " these trends will inevitably have undesirable consequences on the quality and commitment of newly trained teachers and are part of the deskilling of the teaching profession which gathers apace day by day and actually nears completion." If you have views on this subject, register with the History Forum and join the debate.

Battlefield Anomalies: The main reason why Graham Morris started this site was to enable the layman, and the professional military historian to gain access to some of the lesser-known battles of history, as well as a few of the more familiar, without having to troll through the masses of irrelevant and often misleading information available on the Web. Morris hopes that his website will stimulate debate and discussion. The website currently features the battles at Caradoc, Eylau, Fontenoy, Heilsberg, Koniggtatz, Malplaquet and Gettysburg.

Bombing of Dresden: In 1945, Arthur Harris decided to create a firestorm in the medieval city of Dresden. He considered it a good target as it had not been attacked during the war and was virtually undefended by anti-aircraft guns. The population of the city was now far greater than the normal 650,000 due to the large numbers of refugees fleeing from the advancing Red Army. On the 13th February 1945, 773 Avro Lancasters bombed Dresden. During the next two days the USAAF sent over 527 heavy bombers to follow up the RAF attack. Dresden was nearly totally destroyed. As a result of the firestorm it was afterwards impossible to count the number of victims. This website uses the words of Arthur Harris and Winston Churchill to help explain why it was thought important to destroy Dresden.

Nationalism and History Teaching: "It is not a school’s task to produce good citizens any more than it is to produce Christian gentlemen. The school does not give people their political ideals, or religious faith, but the means to discover both for themselves. Above all, it gives them the scepticism so that they will leave with the ability to doubt, rather than the inclination to believe. In this sense, a good school is subversive of current orthodoxy in politics, religion and learning." These are the words of John Rae and his comments have led to an interesting debate on the International Education Forum. If you have views on this subject, register with the International Education Forum and join the debate.

200 Years of British Postal Markings: This website covers Bishop marks, Free Franks, Ship letters, Scottish Additional d mail tax, Mileage marks, Too Late markings, London postmarks, Local Posts, Uniform 4d and 5th Clause marks. Almost all of these are prior to the introduction of the Penny Black in 1840. Background information is given about each mark, the pages are well illustrated with examples and the London Posts have transcripts of many of the letters from our own collections. They give an insight into British postal and social history.

Question of Palestine: There are around 7.5 million Palestinians scattered throughout different countries around the world. Over 4.5 million of these Palestinians are refugees. The Palestine problem became an international issue towards the end of the First World War with the disintegration of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Palestine was among the several former Ottoman Arab territories which were placed under the administration of Great Britain under the Mandates System adopted by the League of Nations. All but one of these Mandated Territories became fully independent States, as anticipated. The exception was Palestine where, instead of being limited to "the rendering of administrative assistance and advice" the Mandate had as a primary objective the implementation of the "Balfour Declaration" issued by the British Government in 1917, expressing support for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". This UN website tells the story of of what has happened in this region over the last 80 years.

The Taking of America: Richard E. Sprague first published 'The Taking of America' in 1976. He has now placed an updated version on the web. As he says in his introduction: "This book is not about assassinations, at least not solely about assassinations. It is not just another book about who murdered President Kennedy or how or why. It is a book about power, about who really controls the United States policies, especially foreign policies. It is a book about the process of control through the manipulation of the American presidency and the presidential election process. The objective of the book is to expose the clandestine, secret, tricky methods and weapons used for this manipulation, and to reveal the degree to which these have been hidden from the American public."

Electronic Assassinations Newsletter: Each issue of this excellent journal concentrates on a theme or specialized topic relating to cold war era political assassinations in the United States. The first issue took a close look at Gerald Posner and his 1993 book Case Closed. According to the editor of this newsletter: "Case Closed was a slick, lawyerly presentation of the lone assassin theory in the death of JFK." Issue 2 is entitled New Discoveries in Recently Released Assassination Files and includes articles such as CIA Files and the Pre-Assassination Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald (Peter Dale Scott) and The House Select Committee on Assassinations and the Autopsy Photographic Evidence (Gary L. Aguilar).

Book Section

Child Labour in Britain: 1750-1870: What kinds of jobs did children do in the past, and how widespread was their employment? Why did so many poor families put their children to work? How did the state respond to child labour? What problems arise in the interpretation of evidence of child employment? In this clear and concise study, Peter Kilby argues that child labour provided an invaluable contribution to economic growth and the incomes of working-class households. Consequently, the picture that emerges is much more complex than that portrayed in many traditional approaches to the subject. (Peter Kirby, Palgrave, ISBN 0 333 67194 5, 16.99)

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