Wednesday, 25 September 2013

What History Teachers Think About History.

by Henry Ling and Kelvin Shiu
 
History is an amazing subject which looks into what we have left behind, the struggles and gains of our lives from the dawn of time. History teachers are always trying their best to keep us informed about what has happened. We asked some of them about certain aspects of the past and they have given us a range of answers.

 Here is what Mr Lemieux thinks;

1) Who is your favourite American president? Why?

This is tricky, I'll go for Reagan, the 'Great Communicator' 1980-88. You have to admire any President who could sweep the country as he did in 1984 winning all bar one state. Plus he oversaw the end of the Cold War and made America feel good about itself again. Also, I think he epitomises the acting element of US politics with his easy-going charm and witticisms. Just a shame about the budget deficit.....

2) Which war of all time has been the most significant?

I'll ignore the obvious ones  (world wars etc) and say the Falklands War which is very significant for us in the UK at any rate. Firstly it saved Mrs Thatcher's premiership, it showed we could still pack a punch and it is the only war in my lifetime where I have felt unequivocally proud of what we as a nation were doing. More historically, it was probably the last ever war fought without the 24/7 media coverage, and when news could be (and was) controlled by the authorities. It is also probably the last ever war we shall ever fight on our own, the final flutter of the British Empire as it were (unless the Spanish seize Gibraltar that is!)

3) Which prime minister of Britain was most interesting?

Spencer Percival: the only one to be assassinated (1812) and now mostly forgotten. A church was built in his memory in Ealing.....

4) Who would you call the best Briton?

Best is a very tricky phrase, but I rather like Scott of the Antarctic - brave, courageous, a bit amateur and ultimately he lost out (both his life and the race to the South Pole). Sums up some of the most endearing qualities of the British I think  - noble, understated and realising that winning isn't everything. Maybe this is why I've always been bemused by fierce sporting competitiveness!

5) Who would you say to be the best non-Briton?

Tricky again! Let's go for one of my favourite 'heroes', Martin Luther. He has certain objectionable qualities for sure (anti-Semitism and being unnecessarily argumentative are just two) but the bottom line was that he acted on what he felt was right, was something of a 16th whistle-blower on the corruption of the 16th century church and believed that people should worship in their own language and read the Bible for themselves. A little bit of an ecclesiastical democrat in some ways!

6) Which historical event do you believe people can learn the most from?

Well, we can learn from pretty much every event in history if we take the time but in the end perhaps I'd go for the elections in Germany between 1929 and 1932 as it shows what happens when an electorate is hoodwinked, and the mainstream political parties lose touch and fail to deliver what the people want

7) What is the most significant standing historical monument?

The Great Wall of China. It is pretty impressive and pretty long. What do we have by way of comparison, a few earthworks called Offa's Dyke and the remains of what was once a similar but far smaller equivalent namely Hadrian's Wall.

8) Which historical monument touches you most?

I'll play safe here, and go for the war cemeteries from the Great War. One of the most touching was one in Gallipoli overlooking the Bosporus where some OPs are buried. With its big memorial overlooking a busy shipping channel it reminded be a bit of Southsea Common and the naval monument there. Calm and peaceful nowadays, but once a bloody killing field.

9) Who is your favourite historical "villain"?

Interesting one - I'll plump for General Franco the fascist Spanish dictator from 1939-75.  A typical dictator in many ways yet he also refused to ally with Hitler and died peacefully. Not many modern dictators can say that. Also he was actually quite principled in his rule and wasn't really interested in creating a family ruling elite unlike many. He (probably inadvertently) enabled a peaceful transition to democracy in Spain by nominating King Juan Carlos. I've also seen his bathroom suite (1970s tasteless) and his mausoleum (vast and slowly decaying) and read in Preston's excellent biography that he enjoyed doing the football pools with Mrs Franco.

10)  Who is the greatest historical figure?

Well, what is great...... I'll go religious and say Jesus. 1 billion plus believers can't be wrong, and if nothing else the Western World bases its whole system of dating years on his life, BC and AD, (not please note BCE and CE). So even without the Bible, the Church, his moral teaching and much more, he is significant for that alone. Where would history be without an agreed system (well for much of the world at least) for numbering years.....
 

Mrs Casillas-Cross replied to the same questions as follows;

1) Who is your favourite American president? Why?

Lincoln- A man who was able to establish and work with a team of rivals in extraordinary circumstances and passed one of the most important amendments to the constitution 13th Amendment the emancipation of slavery.

2) Which war of all time has been the most significant?

First World War

 3) Which prime minister of Britain was most interesting?

Peel/ Gladstone

 4) Who would you call the best Briton?

Boudicca

5) Who would you say to be the best non-Briton?

Nelson Mandela

6) Which historical event do you believe people can learn the most from?

The Cold War

 7) What is the most significant standing historical monument?

The Pyramids

8) Which historical monument touches you most?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (of those visited)

9) Who is your favourite historical "villain"?

Mao

10)  Who is the greatest historical figure?

Jesus Christ


Finally Dr Galliver gave us the following answers:

1) Who is your favourite American president? Why?

William Henry Harrison, shortest term in office (32 days in 1841)

2) Which war of all time has been the most significant?

The Great War of 1914-1918; end of European empires, origins of Communist and Fascist states- the repercussions are still being felt.

3) Which prime minister of Britain was most interesting?

This is pretty subjective but the one I find most interesting, in spite of his rather dull home life, is Sir Robert Peel.  Peel had to address the growing pains of an industrial society.

4) Who would you call the best Briton?

Again depends what you mean by best but if we go for moral qualities, my favourite (near) saint from the British isles is Blessed Nicholas Postgate.  A life of quietly heroic virtue.

5) Who would you say to be the best non-Briton?

If Christ is not allowed, I'd go for Pope Leo XIII.  Not even a blessed but a great moral teacher who convincingly addressed the problems posed by capitalism and communism.

6) Which historical event do you believe people can learn the most from?

The Resurrection.

7) What is the most significant standing historical monument?

Depends on the context but given the answer above it's probably going to be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

8) Which historical monument touches you most?

See above.

9) Who is your favourite historical "villain"?

Tony Blair.

10)  Who is the greatest historical figure?

Christ

As we can see in the historical world we have left behind us we have had some great leaders, some bad leaders and we now have (hopefully) learnt from those mistakes that have happened and move forward to make a better world, maybe one like the most honoured leaders have set us up for.

3 comments:

  1. Shame to see that our school's esteemed History Dept. have called 'Jesus' the greatest historical figure. Didn't think historians were susceptible to myths

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most historians agree on Jesus existence and whether you believe what Christians say about him or not, you must admit, he made quite an impact.

      Delete
    2. Jesus may exist but he did not make a impact himself, some people who were trying to con people into the money making scheme which is religion made him the person many view today

      Delete

Comments with names are more likely to be published.