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First World War


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#1 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 05:04 PM

With the 90th anniversary of the UK getting involved in WW1 upon us, I thought it might be an idea to discuss a few things relating to WW1. Many aspects are, of course, well covered on many a website, so I've ignored them. A few points to ponder then:

- did any of the combatants actually attain their original objectives?
- what GOOD came as a result of the war?
- what impact does this conflict have on the modern world?
- which of the war memorials/ museums / battlefield visits has the biggest impact on visitors?
- what is the most important single point you want to get across to your pupils when teaching this conflict?

#2 neil mcdonald

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 06:16 PM

Teaching WW1 for some strange reason has more time in Year 9 than WW2 had in my previous school. I say strange because at first I always try to make sure I look at the Holocaust which is a must for Year 9s. WW1 has for a lot of people the ability to be very relevant for today - just get the kids to se if their great great grandparents died there and then look them up on the CWGC website - my Great Grandfather is on a wall having no known grave. The significance of the wa is far reaching even today - the legacy of it created Yugoslavia, Kuwait, Iraq and countless other probelms we have suffered with. Did it cause any good? No amount of good can be worth the suffering people faced but I think that the good is the lesser of two evils - if we had not stood up against the Germans for their invasion of Belgium would we have done the right thing - what would the future have been. I know countless others will cite the imperialism and militarism causes but nothing can take away the fact that we went to war to stop an agressive act on a neutral country - we stood up to a bully. As for memorials I get the students to deisgn their own - totally new. Many say the graves at the Somme and Verdun are the most moving places.

The most important single point for the topic is that the history that surrounds WW1 has in someways lost the real tragedy of the conflict
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#3 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 08:41 PM

With the 90th anniversary of the UK getting involved in WW1 upon us, I thought it might be an idea to discuss a few things relating to WW1......?

- what GOOD came as a result of the war?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Good idea, Dan.

Whether anything good came as a result of the war rather depends on one's point of view/priorities doesn't it? ... and whether one takes a view that it not Anglocentric.

Despite the deaths of millions of men I think a number of good things did come as a result of the war:

* The participation of troops from British colonies strengthened the argument for independence, and in the long run led to the end of Empire.
* It resulted in the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian monarchies.
* It precipitated the granting of women's suffrage in Britain.

As for the impact on the modern world then ..... where do you start?

With the social consequences of the war and their long term effects?
With the political connsequences in the Middle East?
With the Russian Revolution?

This makes a brilliant mind-mapping exercise.

#4 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 11:23 PM

- what GOOD came as a result of the war? (Carole Faithorn



Despite the deaths of millions of men I think a number of good things did come as a result of the war:

* It resulted in the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian monarchies.


Is that a good thing though? Lets think about the consequences of these 'good' things...

- disintegration of the Balkans into an abject mess which has resulted in ethnic cleansing etc...

- fall of the German monarchy... mmm, that was a great thing wasn't it. Consequences of that? disfragmentated German stae that was hastily put together, ruddrless and arguably doomed to failure. 2nd Reich falls equals 3rd Reich... any takers for that argument?

- Russian monarchy falls.... ok, so Nick II wasn't the greatest of monarchs of all time but seriously... Stalin versus the Romanov family, who wins the kill count?

Edited by Dan Moorhouse, 03 August 2004 - 11:30 PM.


#5 JohnDClare

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 11:59 PM

For me, WWI was the fulcrum which tipped western European civilisation into the modern world.

There is SO much difference between the 19th century/Edwardian world which preceded it (and foolishly and innocently rushed into it) and the embittered, technological, science-dominated world which followed it.

All those deaths were a kind of ELE for Victorian values.

Having said that , I STILL haven't found a good way to teach this to Year 9 - I just get stuck in the trench warfare bit. The problem is that, to see the thing in its perspective, you need to know what has happened SINCE WWI, as well as what happened IN it.

#6 D Letouzey

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 08:40 PM

WW1 is one good issue in historiography : John has shown it about the Douglas Haig case.

Antoine Prost and Jay Winter show that each generation built his ww1 view.
Since 1994, and Sarajevo, the dominant cultural history is influenced by the victimisation we can find in the media.
"Penser la Grande Guerre", their historiography book, published in French in february, will be adapted in English soon.
http://aphgcaen.free...ences/prost.htm

One major improvement is our better knowledge of the pathology of nationalism.
It can be useful to understand the world we live in...


There is SO much difference between the 19th century/Edwardian world which preceded it (and foolishly and innocently rushed into it) and the embittered, technological, science-dominated world which followed it.


This difference is also the result of a long term process, not only the result of a 5 years war.
2 details to suggest things are more complex :
. when the Germans invade Normandy in june 1940, their army was motorised, but they enter Vire with horses and carts...
. Farmers used horses until the 1950 (like some farmers in Eastern Europe now).
Tractors came mostly after 1955.

Daniel

Edited by D Letouzey, 06 August 2004 - 08:54 PM.


#7 A Finemess

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 06:50 PM

There’s bound to be a huge increase in interest in WW1 as the centenary approaches. Indeed, this has already begun with a number of books re-evaluating the conflict and some proposing a revisionist viewpoint, attacking the common pre-occupation with “mud blood and misery”.

My department recently decided to change our curriculum in S3 and S4 and move from Standard Grade courses to Intermediate courses. I had to think very hard about this because it meant abandoning the S Grade “Conflict and Cooperation” course which is based on WW1. Indeed, at an In Service course which I delivered, this was raised as one very good reason for not moving away from S Grade

However, as John suggested above, the problem is the hugeness of the topic and the difficulty of imparting its consequences to our pupils. The topic often becomes unduly focussed on trench warfare despite the fact that the syllabus specifies a study of the causes of the war and its consequences in terms of security issues 1919 – 1930s.

There is probably a case for teaching a unit on WW1 to our S5 students (16 – 17 year olds) before they begin their Higher Grade studies.

Incidentally, I have often begun my teaching of WW1 by asking my class the year in which the 20th Century began?

Some always suggested 1900, some 1901. My answer was always 1917 , citing a number of supporting reasons for this.

Pay attention at the back! Now what might these have been, class?
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#8 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 08:14 PM

However, as John suggested above, the problem is the hugeness of the topic and the difficulty of imparting its consequences to our pupils.  The topic often becomes unduly focussed on trench warfare despite the fact that the syllabus specifies a study of the causes of the war and its consequences in terms of security issues 1919 – 1930s.

Like John and A Finemess I always got bogged down in Trench Warfare and with time constraints and the lack of knowledge and maturity of Y 9s found it hard to look at the bigger picture.

Some always suggested 1900, some 1901.  My answer was always 1917 , citing a number of supporting reasons for this. 

Pay attention at the back!  Now what might these have been, class?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Please sir? Was it the Russian Revolution, sir? Was it anything to do with that, sir?
Was it anything to do with the use of technology as well, sir?

[Sorry. Couldn't resist ;) ]

#9 D Letouzey

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 07:33 PM

Driving back home, an uncommon detail about war monuments.

Ceauce, a small village near Domfront (Orne, south of Normandy) has 2 monuments :
- One, at the centre of the village, concerns the Franco-prussian war of 1870 (the monument was built in 1901)
http://hgtice.free.f...os/ceauce70.jpg

- one, outside the village, for those who "consent to be killed" (according to cultural historians) in 1914-1918 :
http://hgtice.free.f...os/ceauce14.jpg

In this "religious style" monument, the soldier on the left stands for Yser and the Somme, the other one for Verdun and the Marne
http://hgtice.free.f...os/ceauc14b.jpg

The 1870 monument is on the last postcard on this page :
http://membres.lycos...enea/ceauce.htm

If you read French, you may see the political reasons of this situation :
http://hgtice.free.fr/docs/ceauce.htm

Daniel

Edited by D Letouzey, 26 August 2004 - 09:11 PM.


#10 Lou Phillips

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 02:57 PM

I just thought I would like to share my experience of teaching the First World War.

what is the most important single point you want to get across to your pupils when teaching this conflict?


For me the most important point about WWI is the loss of life and how it affected almost everyone. Probably my best lesson on teaching practice last term was my lesson on the Somme and my great-great-uncle George who died, aged 19.

I start the lesson with a slide show of old family photos, George as a little boy, starting his first job aged 14 as a postman. The kids all have a good laugh at the silly moustaches and the austere clothes. Then I show them the picture of him in uniform about to go off to the front. They are all shocked at how young he looks. I then show them a copy of his death certificate and a cutting from the local paper detailing his death. I show them copies of the batallion diaries showing that they weren't doing anything that day and ask them to think how he might have died. I tell them he has no grave and show them his name on the Thiepval Memorial explaining to them how I had to sit on my Dad's shoulders to take the photo. I show them pictures we took on a visit to the Somme, of the wood where he died (Leuze Wood, known as 'Lousy wood' to the men) and a whole shell we found just lying there by the side of the road.

And that's about it. I did this with both a top set and an SEN group, both sat there mesmerised, asking pertinent questions and keen to find out what the war was all about.

I think this personal aspect it far more powerful than the 'balance of power' stuff which seems far too distant.
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