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IGCSE Paper 2: Decline/Collapse of Soviet Control


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#1 Russel Tarr

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 09:32 AM

I'm just about to start preparing a load of materials for the new IGCSE History Paper 2 option "The decline and collapse of Soviet control over Eastern Europe".

However, I'm stumped as to what date period to start with. The syllabus doesn't specify. Paper 1 has a cold War Topic reading:

How secure was the USSR's control over Eastern Europe, 1948-c.1989?
Focus Points
Why was there opposition to Soviet control in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, and how did the USSR react to this opposition?
How similar were events in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968?
Why was the Berlin Wall built in 1961?
What was the significance of 'Solidarity' in Poland for the decline of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe?
How far was Gorbachev personally responsible for the collapse of Soviet control over Eastern Europe?


The last two questions are clearly directly related, but feasibly the "decline" could be traced right the way back to the Berlin Blockade. It strikes me as a little ironic that I always encourage my students to "define a clear time period in your essays and stick to it in your study" but the exam board aren't doing so...and with lesson time at an absolute premium there's a danger of having to cover every single feasible event right back to the Berlin Blockade

So to get to the point, the sorts of things I'm keen to hear about are:
1. At what date should the study begin?
2. Does East Germany count as East Europe in this context?
3. What are the main case studies you'll look at?

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#2 Russell Courts

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 09:16 PM

I've been asking everyone about this for a while now and I think it would be very harsh of CIE to ask anything before Poland. I think that since, as you point out, the decline can be traced back to 48, the events of the 50s and 60s are more about the hanging on to control rather than the collapse. Usually the period this paper covers is quite tightly focused, which is what leads me to believe that it will be about the eighties. We will of course cover ourselves by pointing out that there is a slight chance that it will be on earlier events, but since we will have covered the content, it won't be the end of the world.
I think I'll have strawberry...

#3 Aaron O'Brien

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 10:22 PM

I've been asking everyone about this for a while now and I think it would be very harsh of CIE to ask anything before Poland. I think that since, as you point out, the decline can be traced back to 48, the events of the 50s and 60s are more about the hanging on to control rather than the collapse. Usually the period this paper covers is quite tightly focused, which is what leads me to believe that it will be about the eighties. We will of course cover ourselves by pointing out that there is a slight chance that it will be on earlier events, but since we will have covered the content, it won't be the end of the world.

on

Once the CIE '24 hour embargo' is up on the Oct/Nov. session paper is up I will PM you what P2 was on - my students have just sat it.

Regards, Aaron
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#4 Russell Courts

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 08:59 AM

Oh no, is this going to make me look silly :unsure:
I think I'll have strawberry...

#5 Russel Tarr

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 02:57 PM

Once the CIE '24 hour embargo' is up on the Oct/Nov. session paper is up I will PM you what P2 was on - my students have just sat it.


That would be great, thanks - I thought the Oct/Nov session was on the Spanish Civil War this year, clearly I was wrong on that one!

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#6 Aaron O'Brien

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 07:25 PM

Once the CIE '24 hour embargo' is up on the Oct/Nov. session paper is up I will PM you what P2 was on - my students have just sat it.


That would be great, thanks - I thought the Oct/Nov session was on the Spanish Civil War this year, clearly I was wrong on that one!




Hi, I couldn't see a way to attach the files through the PM function so I here they are via a standard post in PDF.
It was " How important was Solidarity" with the final 12 mark question asking whether the sources proved Solidarity was the main factor influencing events in Poland in the 1980s.

Attached File  p2p1.pdf   35.66K   1054 downloadsAttached File  p2p2.pdf   29.62K   1047 downloadsAttached File  p2p3.pdf   70.86K   1020 downloadsAttached File  p2p4.pdf   63.44K   972 downloadsAttached File  p2p5.pdf   31.58K   995 downloads
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#7 Russel Tarr

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 08:04 PM

That makes sense, given that this is one of the key questions in Paper 1. The other one is on Gorbachev...I wonder what the IGCSE record is with regard to consistency or otherwise between Nov / June sessions...

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#8 Aaron O'Brien

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 09:18 PM

That makes sense, given that this is one of the key questions in Paper 1. The other one is on Gorbachev...I wonder what the IGCSE record is with regard to consistency or otherwise between Nov / June sessions...



Consistency....CIE....hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


But seriously my pick for the next one on this topic would be the events of 1989 in some way - fall of wall, impact of Gorbachev [even if Gorbachev was referred in the Oct paper].

My students were largely happy with the paper. I had not gone into a great deal of contextual information about this topic as preparation for the paper really. I just identified five possible areas I thought could come up [Hungary 1956/Berlin 1961-2/Czechoslovakia 1968/Poland 1980s/events of 1989 with impact of Gorb's reforms] and used a few of the CNN Cold War videos/associated material and the relevant pages of Walsh. Most of the students felt they knew enough to get through the sources. Yet I guess proof of the pudding will be in January when results come out !!!

All the best, Aaron
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#9 George German

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 01:57 AM

I am a bit confused here and new to this examination, so was hoping you guys could help me

1. My department swear this Unit was going to focus on the Velvet Revolution, which is what we have started to gather materials on, but the Specification suggests it is a lot broader then this - have we just made a mistake?

2. The specification suggests the November examination will be on the German involvement in the Spanish Civil War, yet the paper that has been posted is all about the decline of Communism - have they changed the spec and not announced it?

I would also be very grateful for any resources that people create on this, as it is all quite new to me and i am trying to co-ordinate my department teaching it, even though i am not teaching it myself. So far we have got hold of the BBC book and DVD about the Lost World of Communism, the Cold War documentaries and the Walsh book, but any PowerPoints, Worksheets, lesson ideas would be gratefully received

Thanks in advance for your help

George

#10 Russel Tarr

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 12:14 PM

I've just finished preparing my materials ready to teach this topic after the half term holidays here.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for something on Gorby's personal role in the collapse of control in Eastern Europe but I think this framework I've put together should cover all the important bases...

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#11 Aaron O'Brien

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 08:58 AM

Hi
Bizzare thing about the results was that a reasonably competent cohort almost all got As or Bs for the Paper Two component. I do not know what it says about my teaching ability that when I told them before the exam that I really had no clear idea of which specific content area within a very broad topic would be tested that they attained the best results we have ever had for the Paper 2 component. I certainly taught the least I have ever taught in terms of content in preparing students for the paper...so less of my teaching = higher results????

Looking at the specification, if the Nov session was on Solidarity [a collapse aspect?] then I guess it would be more likey that the June 2010 session will be on a 'decline' aspect rather another 'collapse' aspect...but I guess in some ways all events up to 1989 could be considered in some ways 'decline' rather than 'collapse' so who knows?

To answer George's questions:
1. My department swear this Unit was going to focus on the Velvet Revolution, which is what we have started to gather materials on, but the Specification suggests it is a lot broader then this - have we just made a mistake?
Maybe someone in your Department writes the paper???? LOL. But seriously I guess it could well be a 1989 topic like the Velvet Revolution. I would think a 'decline' focus could go back to the late 50s, certainly 60s.

2. The specification suggests the November examination will be on the German involvement in the Spanish Civil War, yet the paper that has been posted is all about the decline of Communism - have they changed the spec and not announced it? The November 2009 examination session was on decline/collapse of Communism; the June 2010 session will be on decline/Collapse of Communism and the November 2010 session will be on the Spanish Civil War, as CIE vary the two topic areas over a two year/4 session period.

I would also be very grateful for any resources that people create on this, as it is all quite new to me and i am trying to co-ordinate my department teaching it, even though i am not teaching it myself. So far we have got hold of the BBC book and DVD about the Lost World of Communism, the Cold War documentaries and the Walsh book, but any PowerPoints, Worksheets, lesson ideas would be gratefully received
As I have stated above in the first part of my email I would tend to suggest that instead of worrying about teaching the story of the topic I would focus the students on practising the required skills: source analysis and evaluation. I found the CNN docos and the textbooks together a few brief handouts got my [by no means academically outstanding cohort] through just fine. Russel's material hyperlinked to below wasn't available last year when I did all this but it looks ideal in terms of depth and scope as preparation for the paper content-wise :)

Hope this helps George? Always really hard having to set a Department up on your own etc...and to be honest the bumpf on the CIE site is often not that helpful. I'd be glad to give you any help I can as I have had to prepare students for 12 CIE exam sessions so far..oh what fun...

All the best, Aaron

Edited by Aaron O'Brien, 03 March 2010 - 09:02 AM.

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#12 Russel Tarr

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 07:59 PM

I would think a 'decline' focus could go back to the late 50s, certainly 60s.


I'm rather hoping not: based on the syllabus points, the "Decline" aspect of the topic focuses on "How far was Solidarity the cause of the decline of Soviet Power?" and the "Collapse" dimension is on "How far was Gorbachev responsible for the collapse?".

Either of those my students should be more than comfortable with, putting it into a broad military, economic, social etc context going right back to the 1950s and up to the early 1990s - but if the exam was on (for example) Hungary '56 or Czech '68 I'd think that would be a real cause for complaint: those sorts of specific events aren't really about "decline" at all (Soviet control was never popular in Eastern Europe after 1948, and those two rebellions were successfully crushed). "Decline" surely starts with Solidarity onwards, when it becomes increasingly clear that the Soviet Union does not have the economic, political or military wherewithal to keep its satellite states under control.

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#13 Russel Tarr

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 08:01 PM

...to pick up on an earlier theme, two good films:

Goodbye Lenin (nice on socio-economic conditions in the Eastern Bloc)
Lives of Others (good on the politico-military side of things)

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

#14 Aaron O'Brien

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 09:39 PM

Russel
Yes, a logical reading of the syllabus suggests you are correct - it should be on Gorbachev. But given how CIE can be.......???

Guess we'll all find out soon :)

I thought the Nov. 2009 paper was a bit disjointed in that it focussed on Poland 1980-82 with sources A -F and then dropped in two sources G and H on Gorbachev. Having seen this happen with the Nov 2009 paper I can't see why they might not make reference to earlier events to contextualise events of 1989. But again ours is not to reason why!

Aaron
'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss'




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