Apologies for a recent lack of activity, but sadly posting here did fall down the priority list during our recent OFSTED inspection!
Now I do promise a more “Christmassy” post soon, but as Eurozone/pension/election/corruption protests continue all over the world, it’s only right to briefly (as I know it’s all I seem to talk about at the minute!) mention them.
Russia’ protests in the last few days have been fascinating, particularly for a teacher who focuses almost exclusively on this country’s history in his A-Level teaching! Not since the fall of the USSR has there been such a public outbreak of political feeling, and at such phenomenal pace. Western commentators and journalists made much of Putin & Medvedev’s agreement, lack then there of and seeminly unending dominance in the world of Russian politics. But the sleeping giant that is the Russian people has seemingly awoken. Why, even the Communists are ironically growing in popularity as they protest something they know only too much about- rigged elections.
However, despite the obvious comparisons with the events of 1905 or 1917, I will resist the temptation to draw comparisons… for now. This is for no other reason than it is too early to do so, although if I were a betting man I’d wager for a conclusion more similar to that of 1905 rather than February/March 1917.
Rather, to highlight just one example of how protesting, and symbolic acts are nothing new, I wish to make a rather tenuous link to the anniversary of Delhi becoming the capital of India. I read about this just today on the BBC News website, and was fascinated to learn about the scale of George V’s coronation as Emperor of India– one which makes Will and Kate’s affair look more like a registry office ceremony followed by a quick reception down the pub! I also enjoyed learning about the symbolic, but perhaps accidental act of defiance by the Gaekwar of Baroda, otherwise known as Maharajah Sayyaji Rao III, as he bowed improperly to the monarch, before turning his back and walking disrespectfully away.
Whilst we do teach the British Empire to our Year 9 students, I confess to not being an expert on the subject, particularly with regards to our “Jewel in the Crown”. I do enjoy learning about the histories of other cultures (China for example, is a particular favourite- thank you Professor Greg Benton!), and now I feel it’s India’s turn. A PGCE placement teacher recently bought me “Empire” by Niall Ferguson as a thank you for mentoring him. Having now read this article, I am looking forward to learning a bit more about our both historic and tragic past as a colonial superpower!