History is not the past; it is what we make of it

The 2016-17 academic year has witnessed significant change in the History Department. Now comprised of two specialist teachers: Mr Agass, who joined British International School Hanoi from The Edron Academy, in Mexico, and Mr Minchin, previously Head of History and Politics at Jumeirah College, Dubai, the department has gone from strength to strength with a record number of students opting to pursue History at IGCSE. 

  • British International School Hanoi history
  • British International School Hanoi History
  • British International School Hanoi history
  • British International School Hanoi history
  • British International School Hanoi history

In our first year of offering the IB Diploma, we have students studying for both Higher and Standard Level History. Standard Level students follow a course in 20th century history with a focus on the development of authoritarian states in Germany, Cuba and the USSR, and the origins, course and effects of the Cold War. They also examine the causes of the Second World War through source enquiry looking at the events in both Europe and South East Asia in the years preceding 1939. Higher Level students have the added depth of some 19th century history in their course, and have studied the unification and consolidation of both Italy and Germany as modern nation-states in late 1800s. So far, the grades our students have achieved have been very promising and we anticipate excellent results next academic year. 

Our Key Stage 3 scheme of work has also been updated with an emphasis on key skills that underlie all aspects of the study of History as an academic discipline. These have been emblazoned throughout the department in a series of bespoke posters, designed by our marketing team. In Years 7-9, we follow a chronological study of a broad range of world history topics, which are both stimulating and relevant to our students at BIS Hanoi. These include: Ancient Civilisations in Asia; the Spanish conquests of South America; the Industrial Revolution; and, the Causes of the First World War. History is so much more than just memorising names and dates, and our assessments always begin by posing an interesting question about the past for the students to debate and come to a conclusion on. For example, ‘Does King John really deserve such an awful reputation?’ and, ‘What was it really like to work as a slave on a sugar plantation in the 1780s?’.
 
We have encouraged all of our students to ‘be ambitious’ by setting challenging tasks and high expectations. For example, students in Year 9 have been studying the IGCSE topic ‘Why did international peace collapse in 1939?’ and completing examination questions from real past papers. Moreover, we have introduced a number of opportunities for the students to engage in creative activities, such as designing and building castles, dramatic role play, historical journalism, and producing recruitment posters. Our main aim is to broaden our students’ perspectives and to open their minds; in doing this, we hope to instill a life-long love of History and a desire to continue their studies at IGCSE and IB levels. 

Every month two students are selected on the basis of merit to receive the award of ‘Historian of the Month’. This recognises students who have made an exceptional effort in their work or achieved outstanding results in their assessed work. These students can be rightly very proud and they are each given five House Points, which contributes to the overall whole-school totals. 

If you would like to find out more about the History curriculum, the topics we teach or have any general enquiries, please feel welcome to contact: bradleyminchin@bishanoi.com. An informative video is available below for all parents to access, which contains footage from lessons as well as interviews with the key staff. 

Mr B Minchin, Head of History

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