Recent Posts by Alexis Mamaux

World History Topic 10: Authoritarian States

"May I choose Margaret Thatcher as an authoritarian leader?" This came from one of my cheekier students.  After we finished units on Lenin and Stalin, I thought I would try an experiment and allow students to choose their own authoritarian regimes.  I was expecting a number of different examples but this was far from what I expected to hear.  And he asked not once, but twice.  And yes, he's English. As I was trying to patiently explain why Thatcher would not be ...

December 30: the death of Rasputin and the beginning of the Russian Revolution

December 30th is the centennial of the death of Rasputin.  This is the story that you are most likely to remember from Russian history; years from now  you will be able to recount to your friends the death scene in minute detail, and you will be able to provide all of the salacious details regarding his life and hold over the female members of the aristocracy, but will you remember anything about the historical significance of this man?  And, if ...

Teaching Russia, killing 3 Birds with One Stone and Auld Lang Syne

My last post for the student blog that I finished yesterday, in honor of the centennial of the murder of Rasputin led me to re-examine how to include the Russian Revolutions in the curriculum.  When the World History Topics were 20th century World History Topics, and before Route 1 and Route 2 were ever conceived of, certain topics were taught by most IB History teachers, most notably World War I and the Russian Revolutions.  This was further reinforced by the ...

Whither the Prescribed Subjects? Next month’s exams are the end of an era

We are now one month out from the final IB exams of the session that began with the exams in 2010.  On 8 November, the final set of Paper 1s will be given, and after that, these subjects will be put to rest.  The peacemaking, peacekeeping material is easily integrated into most regional options and it can be used with 20th century wars as part of the effects - although the level of detail is probably impractical for many of ...

Bulgaria enters the war, October 1915

Nearly 102 years ago, the Bulgarians entered the Great War on the side of the Central Powers.  While it began the 20th century as a client state of Russia it had become increasingly alienated from its patron.  As a member of the Balkan League it found itself in an unlikely alliance of Balkan countries.  The desire to, well, balkanize, the Ottoman Empire was a shared goal but the countries had very little else in common, and all wanted to expand ...

Mess – o – potamia (homage to Jon Stewart) in World War I

World War I took place on may different fronts, but the focus tends to be on the Western front and a few key battles here and there.   This post will focus on the Mesopotamian campaigns. As you read through this, consider the following question: How did the Mesopotamian campaign affect the course and outcome of the First World War? This is a very long post, and to do the subject justice would be even longer, so I have tried to ...

Japanese military participation in World War I

Most IBDP students have a clear understanding of Japanese participation in the peace talks after World War I.  Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919 very effectively illustrates Japanese goals of racial equality and great power status, and many historians look at World War I as a means of further subjugating the Chinese but little time or effort tends to be given to Japan's actual military participation in World War I.   Consider the following questions: What interests did Japan have that led to ...

First World War centennial – Africa

While most of us spend time on the role of colonialism, and the 19th century Scramble for Africa as a cause of the war, we rarely spend much time on the continent after the outbreak of war.  There is some mention of North Africa vis-à-vis the Ottoman Empire but there is little consideration of the Sub-Saharan region. The Germans maintained colonial empires on both coasts but they tended to be poorly defended.  When war broke out the Allies took advantage of ...

Handwriting counts in exams

With the May exam session behind us by nearly six weeks, and most exams marked by the examiners, it is time to address an important issue with regard to IB exams: your handwriting. In much of life, your ability to hand write work clearly may not seem that important, especially if many of your teachers are already moving to having you submit electronical copies of work. However, the IB exams are still hand written.  Most of you are able to produce ...

The Battle of the Somme

By Monday, July 18, 2016 No tags 0

The 7th July marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.  The British launched an attack on the German forces hoping yet again for a break through and an end to the stalemate brought on by trench warfare.  Instead, the battle lasted into November and ultimately there was no victor although the Allies claimed victory due to a 5-mile (8 kilometer) advance.  In this first day the British saw 20,000 soldiers die and another 40,000 were ...

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