My Five Decades Plus Seven

Dear Year 8 Students,

One advantage of being a relatively old History teacher is that I have encountered a number of historical events personally. I can’t recall most of the ones in my first decade, but I do remember the moon landing, which I watched on black and white television in my primary school teacher’s lounge room. 

In the first ten years of my existence, here are just a few events that took place:

  • 1963: John F Kennedy was assassinated.
  • 1964: The Beatles came to Melbourne and “Beatle-mania” took hold.
  • 1966: “Changeover-Day”: We switched from pounds and pence to dollars and cents.
  • 1967: A referendum was passed to include indigenous people as citizens of our nation.
  • 1967: Harold Holt, our then Prime Minister, drowned.
  • 1968: Martin Luther King was assassinated.
  • 1969: The first moon landing took place.

I could go on about the history that I’ve lived through — for example, the sacking of Gough Whitlam (when I was 13), the fall of the Berlin Wall (I was 27 by then) and the 9/11 attacks (I was 39).

But actually, it’s far more interesting for me to contemplate your promising future than my dusty past. After our first class or two, you will know all about the legacies of the ancient Romans and I shall ask you to write a comment about which legacies you would like to leave when you grow to be even older than I am now. Unimaginable, huh?

After all, in History, we are not constrained to think of our lives and our world in a linear way. We are like Time Lords who can imagine our lives at their close, who can picture ourselves as medieval peasants and who can contemplate the question of why ancient Roman tyrants behaved as they did.

Most of all, we can use our knowledge of the past to ponder on how to fashion a better future for humankind. Now there’s an idealistic hope. Aren’t they the best type?

All the very best from your History teacher,

Ms Green

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Welcome to Year 8 History!

My name is Ms Green. History was my first love – then came Psychology, blogging, German, French… What are you passionate about? 

Dear Year 8 Students,

Welcome to my class and my blog. I hope that you will enjoy the stories, adventures and mysteries of history this year.

This blog is a simple navigation aid that will help you to find the next station.

I started writing this blog way back in 2008. It is called “Emit Repoons on a Mission” (see why here) and it is rather like an online railway station with lots of platforms to direct you towards all the reading and research options that you will need to study this subject. There are also lots of activities such as quizzes and crosswords. You can find many topics that we shall be covering this semester under the menu above: “The Middle Ages”.

Sometimes, given my age, I feel like someone from the Middle Ages myself, but of course that is an exaggeration. Compared to you, I am indeed rather advanced in age. I was already 7 years old when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. When the Berlin Wall fell, I was 27 years old; at that time, I believed naively that the world was about to become a safer, better and more tolerant place. In the year when the first iPhone came onto the market, I was 45. I did not realise then that this type of gadget would make it possible to carry around 20 dictionaries, 100 books, several movies and a thousand songs in my pocket. Although I have resisted many of the temptations of the social media age (such as Facebook), I am certainly a disciple of book downloading on a whim – and of blogging.

Can you figure out from all these hints how old I am?

The first humans land on the moon, 1969

The Berlin Wall falls, 1989

The first i-Phone, 2007

Life was unrecognisably different in the Middle Ages: technological changes developed far more slowly; most people couldn’t read; the concept of voting for your leaders was generally unheard of; and people were far less mobile, both physically and socially. And yet some aspects of life then still seem familiar to us now: there were frightening and unexplained diseases; wars and conflict were common and widespread; there was a huge gulf between the wealthy and the poor; and the common people often faced injustice, oppression and tyranny.

Vikings attack other lands in the 8th and 9th centuries

King John signs the Magna Carta, 1215

Black Death strikes Europe, 1348

I hope that you will enjoy learning about this period of human history in the next five months. Our course includes units based in both Europe and Japan, with a quick visit to the Mongolian Empire thrown in for good measure. We shall get around!

Kind regards from Ms Green

Write a Comment

After our first few classes about the legacies of the Romans and the fall of Western Rome, I would like you to write a short comment in answer to one or more of these questions:

  • What is a legacy that you would like to leave?
  • What is an event in your life that has left an impression on you or influenced you?

Essential Words

  • medieval: A Latin word meaning “Middle Ages”
  • Middle Ages: The time between the ancient period (ending in AD 476) and the modern period (starting roughly in 1500)
  • BC is equivalent to BCE: Before Christ is equivalent to Before the Common Era
  • AD is equivalent to CE: Anno Domini (time since the birth of Christ) is equivalent to the Common Era

Essential Links

My interactive timeline of the Middle Ages

♦ Blog Page: The Fall of the Western Roman Empire

Presentation on the Fall of Western Rome

 

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The Mongols Attack Japan

I’m back – I hope to stay.

Dear Year 8 students, 

I hope you still remember me after my long absence on sick leave! After my emergency operation, I needed quite a long time to get back to normal. Fortunately, my organs appear to be functioning properly now – more or less. Here’s hoping they stay that way.

I hope that you have all been happy at school and have managed all the demands on your time.

The mini-unit below is about the Mongols and their attacks on Japan in the 13th century. I understand that you have already learned quite a lot about medieval Japan and these Mongol attacks with Ms Giesbrecht. Like other medieval events that we have encountered, such as the Norman Conquest and the Black Death, these two failed invasions illustrate the beliefs and mentality of the would-be conquerors and the desperate defenders.

Below, you will find some extra activities, quizzes and websites about this remarkable story, followed by a Kahoot.

Kind regards from Ms Green

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai Source: The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Public Domain via Wikipedia

Introduction

The Mongols conquered a vast empire in far less time than the Romans had required to conquer a smaller one. As a fighting force, the Mongols were efficient, ruthless, systematic and terrifying. When the leaders of a city realised that they were in line for a Mongol attack, they often surrendered meekly and began to pay tribute. This was a sensible idea, for the Mongols were tolerant towards their subjects but merciless towards their foes.

Below you will find some useful resources to help you discover what happened when the seemingly invincible Mongols attacked Japan in the thirteenth century. As the picture above suggests, it is always complicated to attack an island, especially one surrounded by potentially stormy seas. 

Handouts and Activities

Extension Task: Write a paragraph titled “The Story So Far” in which you use these key words and new vocabulary: Kublai Khan, Japanese sovereign/emperor, tribute, Mongols, Samurai, empire, code of honour, typhoon, brutal, armada.

Corresponding Task: Watch the video (Why were the Mongols so effective?) under “Recommended Videos” below and answer questions ⓐ, ⓑ and that are listed there.

Online Quizzes and Activities

(Simple multiple choice questions to help you focus on the main wording and details in the videos)

Recommended Websites

(The three handouts above are based loosely on this much longer article, along with other sources.)

Recommended Videos

ⓐ As you watch the video, write down key words. I shall do the same on the board. We shall have a quick quiz afterwards on the meaning of some words.

ⓑ The presenter lists 3 reasons why the Mongols were such successful conquerors. Write these down too. He repeats the reasons, so don’t panic if you miss them on the first run-through.
1♦ 2♦ 3♦ 

ⓒ Discussion question: Which three words would you use to sum up the Mongols and their style of conquest? (You can borrow words from the handout and the video.)

 

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