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Understanding the British perspective of the War for Independence.


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#1 Mark Ribs

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:56 PM

My name is Mark and I am a fifth grade teacher at a charter school in California. Our instructional model is based on the Expeditionary Learning model, which came form Karl Hahn's Outward Bound model. We are a project based school, with a huge emphasis placed on service and critical thinking. My colleague and I are going to apply for a grant and needed to make a connectiion with a teacher in the UK that teaches the War for Independence. We want our students to better understand the British perspective.
So here's what I am hoping for: 1. To connect with a teacher that explicitly teaches the War for Independence2. The start a relationship in which the our outcome is for my colleague and I to visit for approximately two weeks. 3. Possibly start a pen pal program with the teaher's students
Let me know if you have any thoughts, feelings, push backs, or concerns.Thanks,Mark

#2 Chouan

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:25 AM

Without trying to be discouraging, I think that you'll find that very few schools teach this as a specific subject.

#3 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:04 AM

I've never seen it being taught here - nor is it in any textbooks as far as I can remember - just not enough curriculum time I guess. I did do a lesson on Brown Bess muskets about ten years ago.
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#4 Chouan

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:51 AM

To Americans it is a defining moment, to us it is a minor episode.

#5 Norman Pratt

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 10:45 AM

Hi Mark. Having looked it up and reminded myself what '5th Grade'means I think it unlikely that you would get any response from schools which are in the English 'state system', because they follow a National Curriculum for History which may touch briefly on Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Aztecs, but otherwise ignores the rest of the world. Any serious study of USA History doesn't happen until and unless students choose to take History as a specialised subject at the age of 14.

What I find interesting is the different views of our common History, reflected in our respective textbooks. This was described by Ray Billington and Charles Hill in 1966 in a book called 'The Historian's contribution to Anglo-American misunderstanding', and I suspect that their comments on national bias in textbooks is still true. American Junior High textbooks tended to exaggerate the exploits of American frigates fighting British battleships, while more specialised English History textbooks, covering World War l, largely ignored the American contribution in the war, particularly their crucial role in stopping the German Spring Offensive of 1918.

On our side, yes, there is an overwhelming desire to look at other, happier, events of History. Personally I was very struck during a tour of America last year by a guide giving an impassioned account of what the British did in Chicago in 1812, and quite pleased to be disguised among a bunch of Australians.

Where I live in Essex we do have a couple of links with the War of Independence. There is a family link with George Washington, commemorated for example in a 'Washington window' in the local church. To me even more interesting is the fact that Horatio Gates was born in the Essex town where I taught.

Edited by Norman Pratt, 04 May 2012 - 10:50 AM.


#6 Mark H.

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:31 AM

Norman,
I don't know what the guide in Chicago told you but the Fort Dearborn (Chicago) massacre of 1812 was carried out by Native Americans of the Potawatomi tribe. Although the British had sent emissaries amongst the various tribes and tried to enlist their support in the coming Anglo-American clash, and so could be blamed for stirring up trouble between the Native Americans and the local settlers, the Potawatomis were not acting under British orders nor were any British forces present. One of the US responses to the incident (it wasn't really a massacre as about a third of the American party surrendered to the Potawatomis and were subsequently ransomed) was to attack the villages of the Miami indians, who had actually taken part in the battle on the American side!
I don't agree that British schools ignore the rest of the world at Key Stage 3. We're not alone in teaching e.g. the Rise of Islam, the Crusades, the European Reformation, the Mughal Empire, West African civilisations, the Holocaust and the Middle East Conflict as parts of topics that go beyond the purely parochial.

Edited by Mark H., 06 May 2012 - 07:54 PM.

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#7 David Bryant

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:15 PM

I don't know what the guide in Chicago told you but the Fort Dearborn (Chicago) massacre of 1812 was carried out by Native Americans of the Potawatomi tribe.


Is this a similar instance to America's willingness to discuss the burning of the Capitol and other public buildings in Washington D.C. in August 1813, while not being quite so keen on mentioning the Americans' doing the same thing to the Legislative Assembly buildings in York, Ontario (now Toronto) in Canada in April 1813? Neither episode shows the incendiaries at their best. I am sure British History is stuffed with similar 'things we forgot to remember'.

To return to the topic, we do some lessons on the American Revolution in Year 9, covering the reasons behind the Declaration of Independence and, very briefly, the war itself. It's the sort of thing the current Secretary of State for Education should like, isn't it?

#8 Norman Pratt

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:56 AM

Norman,
I don't know what the guide in Chicago told you but the Fort Dearborn (Chicago) massacre of 1812 was carried out by Native Americans of the Potawatomi tribe. Although the British had sent emissaries amongst the various tribes and tried to enlist their support in the coming Anglo-American clash, and so could be blamed for stirring up trouble between the Native Americans and the local settlers, the Potawatomis were not acting under British orders nor were any British forces present. One of the US responses to the incident (it wasn't really a massacre as about a third of the American party surrendered to the Potawatomis and were subsequently ransomed) was to attack the villages of the Miami indians, who had actually taken part in the battle on the American side!
I don't agree that British schools ignore the rest of the world at Key Stage 3. We're not alone in teaching e.g. the Rise of Islam, the Crusades, the European Reformation, the Mughal Empire, West African civilisations, the Holocaust and the Middle East Conflict as parts of topics that go beyond the purely parochial.

Thanks for the information, Mark. In talking about this particular bloody star on the Chicago flag, our guide was probably perpetrating the same kind of national myths that Billington cited in his book. I was surprised by her vehemence, and I was not necessarily commenting on the accuracy of what she was saying. Perhaps one of the reasons why History as a subject has drawn so much attention from the politicians is that History teachers destroy cherished myths about History, whether America's or our own. Ed Rayner & Ron Stapley wrote a book called 'Debunking History' which claimed '152 Popular Myths Exploded': none of them would surprise a Historian, and that's the whole point. Most people (and their children) believe the myth, and will passionately defend it, even in the face of contrary evidence.
With regard to 'the rest of the world' in History teaching, my own feeling is that during the last 40 years an international perspective on the topics we cover in History largely disappeared. I believe dialogue between teachers in different countries (especially when they have fought one another) is therefore something we should be encouraging. You may be right about the survival of world history topics in the Year 9 pressure cooker, but my own impression has been that they have often simply disappeared for lack of time.

Edited by Norman Pratt, 07 May 2012 - 12:57 AM.


#9 A Finemess

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 06:38 AM

My name is Mark and I am a fifth grade teacher at a charter school in California. Our instructional model is based on the Expeditionary Learning model, which came form Karl Hahn's Outward Bound model. We are a project based school, with a huge emphasis placed on service and critical thinking. My colleague and I are going to apply for a grant and needed to make a connectiion with a teacher in the UK that teaches the War for Independence. We want our students to better understand the British perspective.
So here's what I am hoping for: 1. To connect with a teacher that explicitly teaches the War for Independence2. The start a relationship in which the our outcome is for my colleague and I to visit for approximately two weeks. 3. Possibly start a pen pal program with the teaher's students
Let me know if you have any thoughts, feelings, push backs, or concerns.Thanks,Mark



Kurt Hahn? As in Gordonstoun School in Morayshire, Scotland?

As you've seen above, British schools don't often study the war of independence. However, if you contact Gordonstoun, there may be a history teacher there who would be interested?

http://www.gordonstoun.org.uk/
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