I have heard all about you already from at least two of your other teachers, Mr Jäckisch and Mrs Andrews. So I know that you are curious, perceptive, witty and delightful. Do you mind living up to such high praise? No pressure!
As I grow inexorably older (no faster than you are, but sometimes it seems that way), I notice that, even in the 30 years since I gained my teaching qualification, the story of history has changed quite significantly. Historians keep digging (literally and figuratively) and scientists have found entirely new ways to unwrap the enigmas of history.
As a consequence, while I once used to discuss the question of whether the Neanderthals were related to Homo sapiens with my students in an uncertain, speculative way, I can now state, more or less categorically, that some of our genes come from that mysterious group of people who hunted and gathered, just as we did, but did not survive to see the modern world that we have made. You can find more on this topic at this post.
The internet has also changed how I teach, how my students learn and the sheer breadth of material available to us all. For instance, it was only after the internet became available that I discovered how many women artists in the Renaissance were never mentioned in my old history books. Here is an example.
Since I have also changed in the last 30 years, I perceive history differently as well. One reason is that I have taught myself two foreign languages in the past 8 years. When you read history in another language, you discover that English writers have sometimes left out vital details. Every people has its own story and its own way of telling it.
In short, history is a fluid, ongoing mystery, a continuous endeavour to tease out the truth from all the stories, the lies, the propaganda and the partial sources at our disposal. I hope that you will enjoy the process of unravelling the tangled threads of the human story and that you will contribute your own youthful exuberance, wisdom and knowledge to the process.
Kind regards from
Essential Terms for Describing Time:
The time before the first writing appeared, in the period between 3500 and 3100 BC. Once people could write records, they could write history. That’s when we say that “history” began, though the human story stretches much further back into the mists of time.
• BP – Before the Present
This is frequently used by scientists who deal with huge numbers of years and want to provide a rounded indication of how long ago something happened.
• BC – Before Christ
The time before the birth of Christ, an expression used in Christian societies
• BCE – Before the Common Era
The time before the birth of Christ, without Christ’s name being mentioned; employed in non-Christian societies and increasingly in Christian societies when an objective style of describing history is desired; equivalent in meaning to BC
• AD – Anno Domini, Latin for “Year of our Lord”
The years that have elapsed since the birth of Christ, an expression used in Christian societies
• CE – Common Era
The years that have elapsed since the birth of Christ, without Christ’s name being mentioned; employed in non-Christian societies and increasingly in Christian societies when an objective style of describing history is desired; equivalent in meaning to AD
And last of all, a Jumble Kahoot: