Friday, 24 December 2010

Obama's Christmas Congress success

Despite it looking like Obama was going to end 2010 with little success after the November elections, Obama has managed to pull the START treaty out of the bag and the law allowing gays to serve openly in the military. The former should enhance his reputation abroad to get things done and the latter reassure his own party that he still wants to achieve the radical agenda promised in the 2008 election.
Happy Christmas everyone!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Select Committees

In today's 'Governing the UK' AS Politics lesson, a sheet was handed out detailing some excellent examples of how select committees have been successful in scrutinising and calling the government to account.

A copy of the article can be found here for those who would like to investigate the work of select committees further.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Henry IV's head

The embalmed head of King Henry IV of France has been rediscovered and confirmed as genuine after a series of scientific tests. After Henry was assassinated in 1610 his head was kept in the royal chapel in Paris until it was ransacked in 1793. The head was then kept in private hands before reappearing in public. One piece of evidence which assisted the scientists was a healed facial wound, left from a previous assassination attempt. Henry played a significant role in French history as he converted to Catholicism when he became King and enacted the Edict of Nantes in 1598, guaranteeing religious freedom and effectively the 36 year long French Wars of Religion. He was given the nickname "Le Vert Galant" or "The Green Galant" which (according to Wikipedia) "is a reference to both his dashing character and his attractiveness to women."

PS: Here are articles on the subject (in French!) from Le Monde and Le Figaro.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Decade's Most Significant... The Top 10!

The HP Society have drawn up a shortlist of significant events, developments and people of the last decade. They are (in no particular order).
  1. September 11
  2. Invasion of Iraq
  3. Facebook
  4. Obama’s election
  5. Harry Potter
  6. Financial Crisis
  7. Launch of the Euro
  8. Civil Partnerships
  9. The Tsunami
  10. Stem Cell Research

What do you think of this list? Which of these do you think is the most significant? You can have your say in our latest poll on the right hand side of the page, but if you would like to justify your decision (or criticise any of the inclusions) please comment below.

As you can see from the image above, Time Magazine are also looking back over the decade, and you can see some of their choices for significant events, etc here.
PS: If you are having trouble remembering back 10 years, here is another set of top 10s from Time focusing just on 2010 (even though the year hasn't finished yet!!) including Top 10 US Political Gaffes and Top 10 Tweets.

Democracy and the X Factor

Apparently 20 million people watched Matt Cardle win the X Factor last night, with the 27 year old decorator beating Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction into 2nd and 3rd place. The result was probably not the one Cowell wanted, as he had made his support for One Direction quite clear. Is this then an example of the public's bloody-mindedness - particularly after the many allegations of poll manipulation this season? The inexplicably long tenure of Wagner (and Anne Widdecombe over on Strictly) presumably has something to do with this. Can any longer political trends be drawn? What lessons should Cameron, Clegg and Milliband be learning from this?

PS: Here is the Guardian's review of the final programme (described as a 2 hour chasm for the slow opening of an envelope...)

PPS: Here are some more detailed stats (and a graph!) on the X Factor voting week by week, if you're interested.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Liu Xiaobo - Nobel Peace Prize Winner

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded an empty chair. The chairman of the Nobel committee placed the prize and citation on the chair because it was supposed to be given to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer and pro-democracy activist, but he is currently in prison in solitary confinement for his activities. His wife and his relatives were also prevented from attending. The last time the prize was awarded in this way was in 1936, when the German writer Carl von Ossietzky was barred by the Nazi authorities. The award was also dedicated to the "Lost souls of 4 June" - a direct reference to the Chinese crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989. This has obviously not impressed China, who boycotted the event and encouraged 18 others to do the same. The attention that has been brought to Mr Liu's plight and China's ongoing dubious record regarding political freedoms shows the value that the Peace Prize continues to have. President Obama, who received the award last year, agreed, saying that Mr Liu "was far more deserving of the award than I was." and calling for his immediate release.

PS: Here are profiles of Mr Liu from the BBC and here is a petition you can download from Amnesty International calling for his release.

Slavery Map

The New York Times have published an interactive map of slavery in the southern United States in 1860, based on the census taken in that year. It is fascinating to see where the densest areas of slavery (over 80% of the population in that area) were; Abraham Lincoln regularly referred to it regularly and the map can even be seen in a portrait of his cabinet in 1864, when he read the emancipation proclamation. The map forms part of a timeline project the paper will be doing, marking the 150th anniversary the war. Blog posts will be published regularly on the anniversary of particular events, using material from the papers archives and comments from historians. You can follow the timeline here.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Federal judge impeached

For only the eighth time in US history a federal judge was impeached in the Senate yesterday. Judge Thomas Porteous, a federal judge in Louisiana, was impeached on all four charges of corruption including lying to Congress. See the BBC's reporting of the story and Politico's.

Tuition Fees

It's decision day for the coalition's tuition fees proposals, and the Liberal Democrats in particular are under pressure, as many of their MPs pledged to oppose any increases in the fees during the election campaign. A dozen MPs are expected to rebel, and several others (including Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes) will abstain, but at present this does not seem sufficient to overturn the motion. There is a good overview of the tuition fees debate on this BBC page, and please let us know your opinions on the issue!

UPDATE: What a day! The motion was (just) carried with a majority of 21 votes. 21 Liberal Democrat MPs voted against it and 8 abstained. 6 Conservative MPs also voted against it. 28 Lib Dem MPS voted for the plans. The protests and in particular the attack on Charleshave of course overshadowed this. This Daily Mail article has plenty of dramatic photos. Michael White in the Guardian has some good points to make about how the violence has become the main focus for the media. Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph comments on how Cameron and Clegg are handling the crisis, and here is the New York Times' view to put things into perspective. What are your views?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Coronation Street

This week is the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street. Is this anniversary worthy of a blog about history and politics? Some would say that television programmes and popular culture are too trivial and ephemeral to be of interest to serious historians, and soap operas portray an necessarily exaggerated view of the world for dramatic purposes. Some have also argued that Coronation Street has never accurately represented the urban working class society it was meant to portray, and was considered old fashioned even in 1950.

However, as has been demonstrated by all the fuss about this week's tram crash and live episode, it has proved enduringly popular and has changed (to a certain extent) with the times, allowing historians of the future to chart, for example, changing attitudes towards immigration, class and sexuality based on the activities of characters in the programme. Political students meanwhile could examine how a predominantly working class area has fragmented into a much more socially diverse environment, although it is of course rare to find the characters discussing political events themselves!

This BBC article (accompanied by these pictures) argues hard for why Coronation Street should be considered important in the history of British Television, particularly as its early episodes (when the only other soap opera available was "The Archers") were made despite considerable reluctance from many in ITV that it could be successful. Do you agree? And should the blog cover more of this sort of thing or stick to "proper history"??

Historical Cakes

Miss D'Souza's Year 12s explored the tudor economy today by creating a cake of the world (celebrating exploration) and a working model of an enclosure, complete with tiny animals, and a cupcake quiz. More ideas for historical cakes are always welcome!

Cameron and Lennon

There are two notable anniversaries today. It has been 5 years since David Cameron became the Tory leader, and this article shows some of the highlights of his time in charge. How well do you think he has done, and how significantly has he changed his party? Should he alone take responsibility for allowing the Conservatives back into office - albeit in a coalition?

It is also the 30th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. He was shot outside his home in New York on 8 December 1980, and many people have vivid memories of where they were when they heard the news, because it was so sudden and shocking. This article includes a few of those memories, plus recollections of other sudden historical events, such as the assassination of JFK and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tom Brook was the first British journalist to report from the scene of Lennon's murder, and he shares his recollections here. A few years ago, John Lennon was included in the shortlist of the 10 "Greatest Britons". Do you think he deserves that accolade? (You can see the programme, presented by Alan Davies, arguing the case for him here)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas Competitions

Nonsuch HP is pleased to announce its Christmas Competitions! Nonsuch students with time on their hands over the Christmas holiday have an opportunity to take part in a series of challenges, with glory and prizes at stake. There are 3 categories:

Year 7: Castle Building. Year 7s are invited to construct a castle in one of 3 categories:
  • Motte and Bailey

  • Stone Keep

  • "Super" Castle (Any design of castle you like, but still identifiably medieval, and preferably not too Disney-influenced!)
There are only a few rules. Please don't make them too big (ie you should be able to carry it by yourself), and don't make it out of any material that might rot or smell. We would prefer you not to make it out of Lego (as that is basically cheating) but Lego figures /knights / siege weapons are allowed to populate it.

Years 8 and 9: Film-making. Year 8s and 9s are invited to make a short film based on one of the topics they have learned this year. So Year 8s could make a Tudor drama about Anne Boleyn or Lady Jane Grey and Year 9s could make a film on the theme of the British Empire or the Black Peoples of America. Please can these be no more than 5 minutes long and submitted on a USB stick or a CD-Rom to the department office.

Years 10 - 13. The senior students are invited to write a blog post for Nonsuch HP. It can be on any political or historical topic, perhaps concentrating on recent events and developments or even taking Christmas itself as a theme. It should preferably include links to other websites of interest and be illustrated with a suitable picture or diagram. Please submit your entries by email to a history or politics teacher, and we aim to put most of them on the blog. There will be separate categories for GCSE and A-Level students and the winners will be given the opportunity to be regular contributors to the blog.

The closing date for all entries is 3.30 on Monday 10 January. Best of luck to everybody, and if you have any questions, please get in touch with the History and Politics department, or leave a comment here.

Christmas Competitions

Christmas Competitions are coming to Nonsuch! Stand by for further news...

Monday, 6 December 2010

Widdy Waltzes Off

Anne Widdecome had her last dance on Strictly Come Dancing at the weekend, making it all the way to week 10 and nearly into the Semi Finals. What do you think was the secret of her success? Sadly this wasn't shared with Lembit Opik, who was the second person to be evicted from I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Are there any other politician / reality show match ups you would like to see?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snow, Football, and the Media

Passing a newsagents in snowy Chessington this morning, Nonsuch HP noticed the headline in the Daily Express, "NOW FOOD IS RUNNING OUT". Does this seem to anyone just a little bit irresponsible? The media has indeed got a duty to report events and the not insignificant problems the bad weather has caused, but the tone of a headline like this was surely excessive.

There is obviously plenty of grumpiness about the failure of the World Cup bid this morning, with some of the blame being put on the Panorama investigation into dodgy dealings in Fifa, which followed up a similar report in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. These reports were specifically referred to by Sepp Blatter just before the vote, and do appear to have had some influence. Is this another example of poor judgement by the media (The Guardian's coverage of the Wikileaks data could possibly be another) or do the media have a duty to expose stories like this whenever they wish? Please add your comments below!

American political update

Lots to keep American politics students busy on a snow day... Another selection of interesting articles from the Economist - on the virtues and talents of Sarah Palin, on a Pentagon report leaving the way clear for gays to serve openly in the military, and on the Wikileaks fiasco. On the latter issue, Mike Huckabee (a 2008 Republican presidential hopeful) sees execution as the only option for dealing with those who leaked the information to Wikileaks and many other politicians are lining up to condemn those involved. Washington Post is concentrating on Congress and Obama's attempt to cut a deal with the Republicans over the Bush-era tax cut and whether to renew it as a whole or only for the middle class. Great topics for discussion and examples for your political analysis - and possible questions for Wednesday's current affairs test.

Mr Coy's Classes (3 December)

Here is a summary of instructions for Mr Coy's classes today. These can also be found on the relevant Fronter pages

12B (History)
Please make sure you have completed your tables on the main characters Henry VII faced during the Pretenders Crises and other rebellions. You should also make notes comparing the scale of the threat of each pretender. Which was most significant? You may have to write something about this in the near future...

Our next topic will be Henry and the nobility, so please start reading this section of the book and consider how effective you think Henry's policy was.

Please can you continue revising as of course your exams will start next week. You must answer 1 question on Russia and 2 on the Cold War (up to and including the Cuban Missile Crisis). A revision checklist will appear shortly!

Many thanks to those of you who have downloaded your song lyrics into the resources folder in Fronter. If the other teams could do the same (and maybe even record some songs?) that would be great.
Our next topic is going to be the American Civil War. Please can you do some research on this topic and bring to the next lesson an information sheet on the main causes of the Civil War, the names of the two sides, their leaders and their flags. Here is one site I found via Google and here is another. I'm sure you can find some more!

12E (Politics)
Please can you spend some of it going over the sections in the book about the development of the Conservative Party, checking that you have understood everything that was said in the last lesson. I would also like you to use your initiative and bring to the next lesson a summary of the key Conservative Party policies, and how some of these may have had to change since the formation of the coalition. You may find websites on the right hand side of the blog of use here.

8 Pluto
If you have completed your homework on a portarit of Elizabeth, and you did it on a computer, please download it (with your name) into the resources section of your Fronter page. I would then like you to do some more research in general into how Elizabeth used portraits (seach Elizabeth portraits in Google) and in particular I would like you to do the "online lesson" from History on the Net to show what you have learned! Here is the link! There are questions to answer (including matching up facts and portraits) and I will check how you got on in the next lesson!

If there are any queries about these lessons, please leave a comment below.

Miss D'Souza's Classes (3 December)

As it is now Snow Day 3, here are details for Miss D'Souza's classes. Please check Fronter for work from other teachers. If you can't get on to Fronter, leave a message below and say what class you are in.

Yr 12 CT: Keep working through the Unit 1 exam paper in your handbook. Remember the Unit 1 test is on 9th December

Yr 12C: Read the chapter on Henry's economy and answer all of the questions in the margin.

10B: Read Pgs 153-155 and makes notes under the sub-headings on those pages, including the case study on Rasputin. Copy the Summary box on P.155. (These are long term factors for the March 1917 Revolution)
Read p.156 about the March Revolution. Answer Qu 2 on p.156. Write one paragraph explaining which reason you think was the most important in leading to the abdication of the Tsar in March 1917.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow Days

The snowy season has certainly started early this year, and Nonsuch HP is here to help! Please check here and on Fronter for news of particular classes and work to be done. GCSE students with mocks coming up may wish to look in particular at John D Clare's site (he also writes textbooks) for revision guidance. The AQA website itself has some helpful resources for A-Level and GCSE History (Politics students should look at the Edexcel website). The School History website is very extensive, and is a good source for Years 7-9 as well. A-Level students can use their time profitably by researching some of the historians they are using in their work and taking notes on particular interpretations.

If you do find any sites particularly useful, particularly for historical interpretations, please leave a comment below.

Miss D'Souza's Classes (2 December)

Here is work for Miss D'Souza's classes today. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

12 C 1: Continue with your presentations on the Economy-remember you will be presenting them next Wednesday.

12 C 2: Complete 2 mind maps one on Ordinary Revenue and one on Extra Ordinary revenue- you should have done one of these already. Then answer the following question- Was Henry ruthlessly efficient or just greedy?- there is information in your textbook to answer this question.

8N: Complete the front page (that we usually fill in after we have completed work on a particular monarch) on Mary- was she a Catholic or Protestant- what religious changes did she introduce?
Complete a one page biography on Queen Elizabeth I. Include the following information:
- when did she reign?
-Brief information about her background.
-What religious changes did she introduce?

Advent Calendars

History Today have created an advent calendar which will include daily entries on the most significant historical moments of the year. There is also an interesting article on advent calendars themselves. Apparently the tradition dates back to Germany in the 19th Century, when people counted down the days to Christmas by drawing lines of chalk on their doors. The first printed calendar, with 24 different windows to open, probably appeared in the early 1900s, also in Germany, but chocolates didn't turn up until the 1950s!

PS: Here is an online calendar (about Christmas traditions and fascinating facts) that you may enjoy - although it is really pitched for primary school students...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

World AIDS Day

While the snow keeps us all at home, spare a thought for those 30 million people around the world who live with HIV/AIDS. It is World AIDS Day today - highlighted in the assembly last week. Have a look at the official website to find out more about what you can do to help raise awareness and money. Elton John has also guest edited the Independent today to highlight issues to do with the epidemic and articles include an interview with Elton John by Jimmy Carr, Bill Clinton's view of the issue and Stephen Fry's involvement with AIDS charities like the Terence Higgins Trust.