I can hardly believe 2012 (pronounced twenty-twelve, not two thousand & twelve…it’s really starting to get on my nerves now!) is about to end. I remember writing my “2011- What will we remember” post like it was yesterday, and yet here we are, saying goodbye to a truly memorable year. Reading that previous post back, it’s interesting to provide a short-term answer to the question. As I read about certain events of 2011, I was shocked- “was that really last year?!” From Occupy London to the death of Amy Winehouse, it doesn’t seem that long ago!
Histor-C has grown enormously this year, which I’m mighty proud of! The 32nd post of the year, the site now sees over 1,000 visitors a month- thank you for reading! Personally, this year has seen a significant job change & the holiday of a lifetime, but on a far grander scale- what about 2012 will we remember in the years to come? What will be taught in the History classrooms of the future from this year?
London 2012- the event will not be forgotten in a hurry, even if the sense of patriotism & optimism seems to have disappeared already. The recent BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, and the New Year’s Honours list have reminded us just what our Team GB accomplished (even if the list neglected many others who made the event what it was!). It felt good to be British this year, in a way very few of us can remember. Our “Great Exhibition” showed of all our strengths as a nation. I can only hope we host another one in my lifetime so I can go in person and enjoy such an amazing spectacle!
The US Election- teaching US political history has further fuelled my interests in events the other side of the Atlantic, and this years’ US election had me captivated. To be out there for a month in the summer build up enhanced my understanding of the political process, and as mentioned in my post-election blog, the outcome was quite remarkable. Obama’s re-election given the current circumstances was a testament to both the power of personality, and the flaws of the Republican Party. Only time will tell if this is a watershed moment for them, which we will look back on with real significance in the future.
The Year of Austerity- this one appeared last year, and will in actual fact go hand-in-hand with this years too. The continuing economic challenges will most certainly be remembered and taught, regardless of its ultimate outcome. Even now, with US politicians trying to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that will severely affect their economic progress in 2013, history is being written. Greece’s continuing struggle, the controversy of Francois Hollande’s now failed attempt to impose a 75% tax on the wealthy, Spain & Italy’s fight to keep their head above water- if it didn’t affect us all so much then it would be jolly interesting to see how it turns out!
The Diamond Jubilee- I don’t exactly think we’ll teach about the event itself, but as Her Majesty celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2012, her reign will certainly be remembered with the same importance as her female predecessors Elizabeth & Victoria. Fast on track to become the longest reigning British monarch, Elizabeth II has revolutionised the role of the monarchy, whilst actually keeping it largely intact in an ever-changing world. Even the most passionate of Republicans would have struggled not to raise a smile at her cameo in the Olympic opening ceremony. The Diamond Jubilee was a wonderful foretaste of the summer that was to come.
The Jimmy Saville scandal- I don’t want to devote any real time to such a shocking and saddening story that developed posthumously this year. Not only has it revealed a very different obituary that belongs to a once loved television personality, but it turned sex charges & paedophilia into the witchcraft hunt of the 21st century. It is a truly hideous crime that deserves punishment, but not the media attention that has been devoted to it.
Felix Baumgartner- when compared with the moon landing of 69, this perhaps isn’t that significant, but his jump from the very edges of our atmosphere to the ground not only broke records, but captivated the attention of the globe. He may only be consigned to the “Did you know?” sections of our textbooks (or iPad apps probably), but he’ll get a mention somewhere.
Syria & the aftermath of the Arab Spring- it already seems like quite a long time ago, but the Arab Spring’s consequences continue to be both bloody & bold. Libya, Tunisia, Morocco- they’ve all vanished from our news programmes, but the political uncertainty in Egypt and the now Civil War in Syria rages on. President Assad’s refusal to compromise with his people has led to some of the biggest massacres in recent history, and shows no signs of stopping. The consequences for both the people of these ancient nations & for the wider world have been significant, and have also brought a woman’s right agenda to the Middle East and Asian world. What will we teach about the Arab Spring? The outcome is still not certain.
The Mars Rover Expedition- this could be incredibly significant, or just mildly interesting. The work of the Mars Expedition Rover has been insightful without being profound so far in 2012 (so perhaps this will belong on the list next year!), but if the robot does indeed make significant, possibly groundbreaking discoveries, then it could join the leagues of Yuri Gagarin & Neil Armstrong in terms of historical space exploration expeditions.
The death of Neil Armstrong- staying where no man has gone before, the passing of Neil Armstrong, as mentioned in my post entitled “a genuinely giant leap”, was of some significance. A real American hero, Armstrong’s life is more likely to be remembered than his death though, and therefore this part of his biography won’t take up that much space on his Wikipedia page.
Hurricane Sandy- could this be remembered in the years to come? Within the US, certainly. The only way that Hurricane Sandy could have a truly lasting impact is if America learns the lessons of its devastation. Both the origins & significance of climate change can be debated, but its presence is unmistakable. Within 100 years, Manhattan could be under the rising sea, and without radical, blue-sky thinking, the world as we know it could change beyond all recognition. Perhaps the future security of the Empire State Building and the centre of Wall Street may make politicians take those campaigning for change in the face of global warming more seriously.
The UK’s wet weather- sticking with the weather, it’s hard to believe that some British counties saw a a drought declared back in the Spring. Officially the wettest year on record, the flood warnings have been endless, and the damage very real. If it wasn’t for the Olympics, I think this weather would have made all in Britain very depressed, and wanting to quickly forget the year of the rain.
Putin’s re-election as Russian President- I’ll be honest, I nearly forgot this even happened in such a busy year. But Putin’s rise to the top of the pile in the former Soviet Union (if you believe he ever truly left it) has been intriguing. The protests, the purges, the potential abuse of power suggest that true democracy is still absence from the originator of communism. The fact that 2012 saw the Communist Partys’ popularity rise in the face of Putin’s United Russia, not to mention the Pussy Riot controversy or Russia’s controversial stance regarding the future of Syria and President Assad, suggest that Russia’ democratic future is far from certain.
The shooting at Newtown, Massachusets- the event itself was a tragedy. The fact that it was not the only shooting in America in 2012 (with the most infamous being the shooting at the Dark Knight Rises premiere in Aurora, Colarado) is a travesty. I don’t often agree with Piers Morgan, even on matters to do with Arsenal, but gun control is a must in the United States. The second amendment gives the right to a firearm, but the size of weapons available, and the ease of which one can get them makes America quite the lawless country in all honesty. In the same way that the Civil Rights controversies damaged America’s reputation during the Cold War, the gun control issues must be sorted once and for all if America is to be a true beacon for “hope” and “freedom”.
The Costa Concordia- was that really this year?! An incompetent event on the eve of Titanic’s 100 year anniversary, but one that will largely be forgotten in the years to come.
Whitney Houston’s death- A sad day for the music industry, but sadder still the life & talent that was already destroyed by drink, drugs & downright bad company.
The wonder of Spain & Lionel Messi- Euro 2012 was at least respectable for England this time around! But Spain once again showed us, along with Germany, how thorough planning & a long-term future can build a truly great footballing nation. Maybe the new St. George’s Park can be the beginnings of such a triumph for us too! Lionel Messi won’t make the school history books, but he has already made history. His record of 90+ goals in a calendar year is remarkable, and his play is simply sublime. He will now be remembered in the same league as players like Pele & Maradonna, and not feel out of place in the company of such legends.
There are many other events of 2012 that perhaps deserved a mention- what were your highlights? And as we look forward to 2013- is there anything actually worth looking forward to, except Kate & Will’s baby? Time will tell!
A Happy New Year from Histor-C!