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Thread: Was there a history thread?

  1. #1
    to the loneliest city in the world other pete's Avatar
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    Question Was there a history thread?

    Have we got many history geeks in Unftown?

    Where do people stand on the debate about "teaching what happened" [trad] vs "teach skills of assessing evidence" [rad] history lessons? The 80s shift away from teaching facts is back in the spotlight over here, and I'm uncomfortable to find myself agreeing with the conservatives, that facts have been wrongly devalued. Evidencial assessment and empathy are useful skills too, but facts are exciting! Opinions also. I left school with no idea about history beyond the standard "Hitler and Henries", but I've enjoyed evening classes since then, and read more history books than fiction. Mostly very parochially British so far, so I'm eager to learn more and see what's interesting others.

    How broad is your country's teaching of its own history and place in the world?

    It's a cliche to start with Teh Rize of Fascsism, but I saw this for the first time today and it's incredible:

    A powerful image of courage


    The photo was taken in Hamburg in 1936, during the celebrations for the launch of a ship. In the crowed, one person refuses to raise his arm to give the Nazi salute. The man was August Landmesser. He had already been in trouble with the authorities, having been sentenced to two years hard labour for marrying a Jewish woman.

    We know little else about August Landmesser, except that he had two children. By pure chance, one of his children recognized her father in this photo when it was published in a German newspaper in 1991. How proud she must have been in that moment.

  2. #2
    she said destroy Lágnætti's Avatar
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    Where do people stand on the debate about "teaching what happened" [trad] vs "teach skills of assessing evidence" [rad] history lessons? The 80s shift away from teaching facts is back in the spotlight over here, and I'm uncomfortable to find myself agreeing with the conservatives, that facts have been wrongly devalued.
    You need both but you have to have a foundation of 'what happened' before you can start getting into the rest of it. I have problems with an emphasis on the empathy stuff when it is sufficiently grounded in enough knowledge or real context for kids to have the slightest clue what they're really meant to be empathizing with. I saw that go on with my nephew when he was at school. He would often be completely frustrated with having to do these exercises for this reason - after covering subjects in an often incredibly perfunctory way it just felt like total bullshit to him and he's an intelligent kid who LOVED history in other contexts - historical films, TV series and museum visits - and does even more as an adult.

    Anyway, speaking of the Third Reich, I've been reading a book written by one of the very few survivors of the anti-Nazi resistance and the final plot to kill Hitler - Hans Bernd Gisevius. He survived because he managed to escape the purge by fleeing to Switzerland and was later able to testify against Goring at Nuremberg. He knew all the main players - Admiral Canaris, General Beck and so on (although he's pretty scathing about Stauffenberg) and it's an incredible document, partly written during the time, and partly afterward and published in 1947 under the title 'Until the Bitter End'. Incredible insight into the complex politics of pre-Nazi Germany and the intense machinations of and tensions between the Abwehr, the SS, the Gestapo and various Wehrmacht and diplomatic figures.

  3. #3
    I am a history nerd. Nerdy nerd nerd. I would much rather read a book about history than fiction. I often comb the net for history articles (I love reading the history of language, dialects, language evolution and development). When I went to Europe, I spent most of my money on local history books (umm..and alcohol of course)! I bought history books in Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria and The Netherlands. While fact based books are interesting, and I love reading them, I do get more joy reading historical biographies and folk writings as you can experience the human way of life more-so than a text book. I think my love for reading history through personal experience began with The Diary of Anne Frank. From there, I started reading history books on my home state, New Mexico, and as you know once you start reading a particular subject, it turns into a rabbit hole as everything begats, begats begats. Following the lines is fascinating. Reading first hand accounts is even more so.

    Personal history is also fascinating. My great-aunt on my father's side researched his bloodline all the way to the beginning of the 1700's. She put several books together and gave them out to family members. It's a very thick book, and includes land leases and notes, civil war prisoner's release documents, immigration documents, death and birth certificates, pictures, descriptions, etc. It's an amazing thing to have, to know where you came from.

    As far as my country and my state's teaching of it's own history, it is incredibly important to use a fact based system, but whose facts are they using? Texas has done the unthinkable in recent years and has began to re-write history once again and use text books that discount anything that they deem unnecessary. Like the affect on the displacement and eradication of Natives, the tyranny of the slave trade, the horrors of the civil war, etc. They want to teach the Settler's glory, sacrifice, skill and desire for freedom (while giving it a conservative christian bend), but they do not want to make them look bad.
    Last edited by Cunter Fartlett; 02-08-2012 at 04:44 PM.

  4. #4
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunter Fartlett View Post
    Texas has done the unthinkable in recent years and has began to re-write history once again and use text books that discount anything that they deem unnecessary. Like the affect on the displacement and eradication of Natives, the tyranny of the slave trade, the horrors of the civil war, etc. They want to teach the Settler's glory, sacrifice, skill and desire for freedom (while giving it a conservative christian bend), but they do not want to make them look bad.
    What's worse is that because TX is a huge market, they don't just make special TX editions. Those revisionist BS texts are spreading to even enlightened states.

    I love history. I read the John Adams book last year or the year before and it has just changed how I see the world. It just really got to me and put my own life in perspective. My life sucks, but at the same time, how lucky am I to live in a country with relatively helpful police and antibiotics.

    I was just reading about the American civil rights movement (and I watched The Help too) and it hit me that that was just barely a decade before I was born. It was always "history" in my head, but in historical terms, it was just a blink of an eye. Ten years ago was 9/11, so to a kid born today, s/he'd have the same distance as I did to the 60s. Will it seem like old stuff to a kid born today?

    Like my life has been entirely after man walked on the moon. But when I think about it, it happened just barely before I was born. It puts things in a different light when you re-examine facts you took for granted later as an adult.

    So now I love to read biographies and watch historical documentaries and read history websites. There's so much I know, but so much I am ignorant about.

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    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    I get most of my history from reading fiction books( I rarely read non-fiction). Some small detail in novel will spawn a research project. I'll research the writer and his era to better understand the context of the novel. Most of my understanding of early American history comes from reading Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain.

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    asari scientist gyabou's Avatar
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    Do any of you listen to any history podcasts? For the last few months I've been a regular listen to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which is hosted by How Stuff Works/the Discovery Channel. I've learned SO many interesting stories from history in that time. What I like the most about the show is that they pick some really obscure topics, and they cover it very thoroughly, talk about their sources, etc.

    I also just started listening to The British History Podcast and The History of Rome.

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    Not epic but colossal. anj's Avatar
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    she might not be so bold fullofwish's Avatar
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    I like the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast as well. I find it sometimes makes assumptions about knowledge of US History topics, which is not always helpful for those of us who live in other parts of the world but most of the time, I think its a nice podcast.

    I really enjoy history, but I don't always enjoy reading books about history. I have done a couple of history units at uni (including this coming semester, doing a colonial US history one) and I can listen to the lecturers talk and talk and talk about it. They are almost always my favourite lectures. But, I do not enjoy writing about history or doing the reading. I know that probably sounds weird but there is something about history as oral storytelling that is so interesting to me. I knew a guy when I was in Australia and he was a history buff and if he showed up to a party I knew he and I would end up sitting by ourselves, while he told me stories from history until the party ended

    In terms of history teaching at pre-tertiary levels, we obviously have an emphasis on New Zealand history, Maori history and particularly on the Treaty of Waitangi as the most significant document - and perhaps event - in our history. This is interesting in terms of teaching the "facts" of history because the Treaty was actually written in two languages (English and Maori) and modern interpretation tells us that the two documents are actually, in places, saying two completely different things. So teaching that history can be quite contentious - do we tell the settlers story or the Maori story? How charitable should we be towards Maori history when (like all cultures) they also had their dodgy moments? How wary to be need to be of the history of European Settler-bashing? Lots of interesting questions come up. It also becomes important because the Treaty is protected in legislation in terms of how the government works, how people do business, etc etc so while the event is technically history, it is very much contemporary and modern and happening right now.

  9. #9
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    The history of English in 10 minutes

    Ten 1-ish-minute animated shorts... very funny

  10. #10
    to the loneliest city in the world other pete's Avatar
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    W00t! Body under a Leicester City Council car park has just been officially confirmed to be that of King Richard III, through multiple DNA matches with the descendants of his cousins, even wounds to the body match contemporary accounts, etc.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/bl...enet-king-live

  11. #11
    Wur doomed. beanstew's Avatar
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    That's so cool!

    Also my twitter timeline is full of "Richard III declared fit for work by ATOS" and "Traces of Richard III found in Tesco burgers" gags.
    Maybe for once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene."

  12. #12
    to the loneliest city in the world other pete's Avatar
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    It's a great example of a University's genetics, history, and medical faculties all working together, especially as DNA sequencing was discovered at Leicester Uni in the first place.

    They've used the stress marks on his bones to estimate the spinal problem and laid out his bones accordingly (can't imbed)
    http://ow.ly/i/1t0gN


    Sheesh that looks painful. No wonder he got infanticidal.

  13. #13
    the druthers Mordecai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gyabou View Post
    Do any of you listen to any history podcasts? For the last few months I've been a regular listen to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which is hosted by How Stuff Works/the Discovery Channel. I've learned SO many interesting stories from history in that time. What I like the most about the show is that they pick some really obscure topics, and they cover it very thoroughly, talk about their sources, etc.

    I also just started listening to The British History Podcast and The History of Rome.
    I just started listening to In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. So so good, especially the episode on the Druids. (They had a sacred island that was destroyed by the bastard Christians!)

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    Sleeps to dream entropy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjee View Post
    I get most of my history from reading fiction books( I rarely read non-fiction). Some small detail in novel will spawn a research project. I'll research the writer and his era to better understand the context of the novel. Most of my understanding of early American history comes from reading Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain.
    I'm a fan of historical fiction. I spend hours researching the events mentioned in the books. Right now I am reading "Ines del alma mía" (Ines of My Soul). Its interesting mainly because a woman was an essential part in the founding and defending of Santiago (Chile).

  15. #15
    to the loneliest city in the world other pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordecai View Post
    I just started listening to In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. So so good, especially the episode on the Druids. (They had a sacred island that was destroyed by the bastard Christians!)
    Yes! I'm always a bit disappointed when it's a science or philosophy week, because I love their historicals so much.

    You can browse the entire archive of episodes since they started in 1998 organised by catagory here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features...rchive/history

    BBC History Magazine's weekly podcast is good too: http://www.historyextra.com/podcasts

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