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History Review

Bradley Minchin
Bradley Minchin (3 posts) Head of Humanities View Profile
18 January 2018

  • British International School Hanoi
  • British International School Hanoi
  • British International School Hanoi
  • British International School Hanoi

By arriving at a more informed and balanced understanding of the past, we can all live and contribute to the world in a more responsible and ethical manner. With the knowledge that our thoughts and actions have consequences that will affect the future, we can choose more wisely the decisions we take in the present.

Students in Years 7-9 have embarked upon a range of enquiries that have been designed to be both interesting and challenging in terms of their content. History is not just about learning names and dates off-by-heart, it’s about interpreting evidence, constructing arguments and analysing and evaluating different perspectives. After all, history isn’t merely ‘the past’ – it’s what we have made (and continue to make) of it. Year 7 students have studied ancient civilisations and learnt why the Roman army was the most effective and successful fighting force in history. Year 8 students have studied early modern European history, and developed their knowledge and understanding of the Tudor monarchs and the Spanish conquests of the Americas. Year 9 students have focused on 20th century history and completed an in-depth study of the causes of the First World War. In KS3 our main aims are to make the study of History exciting and relevant, and we cover a broad range of topics drawn from all regions of the world. This enables our students to reflect on the past from the view of a truly Global Citizen. This term we will study Medieval Monarchs in Year 7, The Slave Trade in Year 8, and Nazi Germany and the causes of the Second World War in Year 9. The curriculum has been purposely designed to equip our students with the knowledge and skills to allow them to transition successfully into more advanced study on the iGCSE and IB Diploma courses. 

This academic year we welcomed our largest cohort yet with over twenty students in Year 10 opting to take History as an iGCSE. We have now completed three of the seven core topics in 20th century world history. The iGCSE course begins in 1919, when world leaders gathered in Paris at the Palace of Versailles to determine what should be done about the defeated countries who lost the First World War, and to decide how another war on the same scale could be avoided in the future. Many of our students were surprized to learn that the young Ho Chi Minh himself was present during the negotiations. Equally, they have found it fascinating to learn that the very treaties that were designed during the conference to ensure long-lasting peace, in the end, provided much of the fuel and resentment that brought Europe back into conflict in 1939. As the great philosopher Hegel remarked, ‘We learn from history that we do not learn from history.’

Our Year 12 have recently completed the first of their Standard and Higher level topics, which have focused on the aftermath of the First World War in Europe and, latterly, the impact of the Great Depression. These events brought about both rapid and dramatic changes, which resulted in the fall of the monarchies and the establishment of new governments in both Russia and Germany. Our students have developed their knowledge and understanding of the revolutions and subsequent establishment of new regimes in both countries: in the case of Russia, this was a communist workers’ state under the leadership of Lenin, and in Germany it was the democratic, albeit fragile, Weimar Republic, whose constitution was, at the time, the most liberal and representative in the world. This study has led to detailed analysis of the ways in which new orders and institutions develop and take root; how a combination of political ideology and pragmatism allow certain groups to establish and maintain power; and, how individuals in society play a key role in the shaping of the course of history. 

As our students make their final decisions regarding their future iGCSE and IB choices for next academic year, we look forward to welcoming even higher numbers of students opting for History. Should you have any questions about the Humanities curriculum, please do not hesitate to contact me: bradley.minchin@bishanoi.com I would be very happy to hear from you.

Bradley Minchin, Head of Humanities