Yesterday saw tutor2u deliver its inaugural version of the Wow Politics teacher CPD event. 35 delegates attended and participated in a hugely enjoyable day which show-cased some incredibly innovative and creative teaching and learning resources for the AS and A2 Politics syllabus.
At the end of the event, the delegates listed the sites below as being invaluable resources for Politics teachers:
https://www.edmodo.com/ US-based collaborative learning zone
http://www.politico.com/reporters/MikeAllen.html US-based political commentator and journalist
http://www.scoop.it/ Online resource portal
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ University College of London resources
http://edublogs.org/ Education blogging site
http://www.politicshome.com/ Politics news source
http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/ Online clips to aid learning
http://www.politicsteacher.co.uk/ Politics teacher resource site
http://newsmap.jp/ Politics news source
Anyone who was unable to attend should look out for a repeat of the event which should be advertised soon (for a May/June date).
So you are thinking of applying for Politics at Univeristy are you? Well, Politics is as I am sure you aware a fascinating subject, it's a subject which is very much alive! Read on for more information on applying to University for Politics!read more...»
Next available date: 18 June 2014 (London)
WOW! Politics 2014 is a brand new CPD course that follows the popular format used in our sell-out courses for Economics & Business Studies.
The aim of WOW! Politics 2014 is to provide teaching colleagues with a collection of resources that can be used immediately in the A Level Politics classroom.
We asked a superb team of experienced and passionate Politics teachers to develop their resources for A Level Politics which would help inspire and engage students - perhaps by adopting a different approach to Politics topics than the traditional textbook style!
The result is a superb collection of teaching resources that we hope students will find engaging, challenging and enjoyable!read more...»
The GOV4A Exam is not far away not, happily here are overviews of the entire specification in Tutor2u Style! All powerpoints are available for download via Slideshare!
Several key figures in the UK hold what are known as the Great Offices of State. Cameron, Osborne, May and Hague all occupy these great positions of power in the UK today. For GOVP2 or any course on the Governing of Modern Britain it is essential that you know about the secretive world that is these great offices. Whilst there is a wealth of information on the Prime Minister's Office little light is shed on the Treasury, Foreign Office or the Home Office. Thankfully the BBC has the provided a gold mine of information on these offices!
Business Studies can have the Biz Quiz, so here comes the Politics Quiz, a weekly round up of news and interesting political stories in the form of 10 questions! Helping you to live the Subject!
If students of the political world were in any doubt as to Ed Miliband's thoughts towards Old and New Labour, they have certainly been ironed out, as Old and New Labour are definitely sent to the grave. This further announcement today at the historic Fabian's Society is political gold for all students sitting the Ideologies Paper next week.
Politics is a subject which is very much alive, it's a social science because its famously unpredictable. Back in 1992 election pundits called the election in favour of Neil Kinnock and Labour, but as astute politics students I'm sure you know that wasn't the case. Election night is probably the jewel in the crown or the star on the Christmas tree for politics students as the fates of nations is in the hands of an electorate. I think that because of this unpredictability, I love the study of it!read more...»
The Hansard Society have been in touch with us to let us know about a new project they're running this year designed to encourage and stimulate debate about key political and economic issues.
Headsup is an online forum for under 18's to debate political issues with their peers up and down the country, and with influential decision-makers. According to the Hansard Society, Headsup is:
a safe, student-oriented space where young people become more informed about political issues, improve their discussion skills and let adults with political influence know what they think. Debate topics are chosen by the young people and have included a range of subjects, such as; immigration, crime, the NHS, climate change and international aid
Our Politics Teacher Newsletter provides email updates on tutor2u and other teaching resources of interest to Politics teachers. To add yourself as a recipient, please complete the form below and then respond to the confirmation email we send you.read more...»
Where do you stand on the political spectrum? How do you work out what is left and what is right? You have read about The Right or The Left, but how do you try to differentiate between them.read more...»
Colleagues teaching A Level Politics in the Bromley area might like to get involved in a new group which Sarah Murphy (HOD at Hayes School) is organising. Sarah suggests that the group should operate informally, sharing ideas and resources for the teaching of Government and Politics. Sounds like a great idea - If you would like to get involved, then contact Sarah directly
This 10 minute video from the UK Parliament site provides an introduction to the role and activities of Commons Select Committees.read more...»
A hat-tip to Nicola Morgan for spotting this terrific video from Dr Simon Usherwood (Department of Politics, University of Surrey) who uses the universal medium of Lego to help explain some core concepts in electoral reform…read more...»
This scene from Yes, Prime Minister is an absolute beauty - working on so many levels.
With all that’s going on at the minute, I hope these clips brings some light relief…read more...»
With the Conservative Party Conference underway this week, I thought I’d post a little reminder of the speech made by the current Foreign Secretary to conference when he was a teenager.read more...»
Someone once said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes.
Talking to a colleague the other day, she suggested this could be a YouTube feature.
To start with then we have Black Wednesday. In the 1992 election the Tories pledged that membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) was at the heart of economic policy. For instance their manifesto of that year stated: “Membership of the ERM is now central to our counter-inflation discipline.” Several months later, the Chancellor Norman Lamont announced that Britain would cease to be part of it. From then on, all the way through to the 1997 election, Labour were well ahead in the polls. That the economy was powering ahead mattered little to the British electorate. Essentially the Conservative government never recovered its reputation for sound economic management until Labour then wrecked any credibility they had after the 2008 financial crisis.
What is interesting (and I am disappointed I couldn’t find a clip on YouTube of the individual standing behind Lamont on the day it was announced that interest rates would soar) is the identity of a young man acting as a special adviser to the Chancellor. Who was it? Where could he possibly be now? See if the picture below the BBC 6 o’clock news on Black Wednesday gives you any clue…read more...»
Can you do better than Rory?
With party conference season in full swing I thought of a good teaching and learning exercise on political parties after watching Rory Weal’s speech in Liverpool yesterday. It is essentially a combination of student tasks that I would do on party ideologies at AS anyway, with what candidates in mock elections would be doing in school. But this year we have a standard to beat. Personally I thought Rory delivered a great speech and clearly does not merit most of the flak that he has received from the kind of obviously unhinged people who post comments on YouTube.
If you have yet to see the speech, here is the BBC clip.read more...»
There are ongoing debates about what useful purpose Parliament serves
A recent report by the Home Affairs Select Committee criticising the government’s policy on the police once again highlights how Parliament performs an important oversight function.
“The Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism role should be given to the new National Crime Agency when it becomes operational in 2013, MPs say.
The Home Affairs Select Committee says the change would mean less intervention in the Met by the Home Secretary and its accountability would be clearer.
Its adds that uncertainty over police reforms for England and Wales could be damaging to the 43 forces.”
We can add this latest example to a study note below that I have written on how Parliament checks the executive…read more...»
This is not intended to be an exhaustive journey through Barack Obama’s career, but instead to end the series on Politics via YouTube by bringing blog readers access to a step by step tour of some key points in the story of an individual with the kind of charisma and oratorical skill that comes around perhaps only once in several generations.
I have tried wherever possible to link to versions with the best combination of audio visual quality.
Put some time aside, and enjoy…read more...»
Having covered a fair amount of UK highlights, I thought I’d link to some top clips I use in US politics teaching.
These are all pre-Obama. I’m working on bringing video material on the current POTUS together for a future posting.
Happy viewing!read more...»
Intra school cooperation at its best as the Bradford Grammar Politics Department offered up these examples to the Social Science Faculty as part of my quest for more ideas on introducing British Politics via YouTube.read more...»
Gordo’s famous smile didn’t quite make it
Any ideas as to what should complete the 10?
Here are my 9 so far…read more...»
I don’t know how many blog users access the site for PSHE related stuff, but here are details of something I did with my 3rd form today.
I try to make the subjects topical to what is going on at the the time and the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was pretty obvious.
With access to a projector, most questions on the worksheet can be covered.read more...»
I frequently get asked for an easy to understand guide to the UK political system. Until recently I lacked an adequate answer. But BBC’s Democracy Live page has a whole host of simple guides to UK institutions. Useful for citizenship, lower school PSHE (for teachers and pupils) and those new to AS looking to do a bit of home research.
Chris Mullin, ex Labour MP for Sunderland South, and political diarist chooses his 10 best political biographies.
Helpful if you still can’t decide where to start when preparing your personal statement!!
The Guardian reported yesterday that David Willetts, the HE minister, had lobbied universities on behalf of several students with ties to his constituency who had received disappointing exam results.
This has caused a bit of a fuss because Willetts is seen as the man responsible for the squeeze on university places. Willetts argues that the fact that he is universities minister should not preclude him from carrying out his constituency duties.
I happen to agree, but it is also worth mentioning as a good starting point for AS government when discussing the difference between backbenchers and frontbenchers. The respective roles of MPs and ministers came up as exam questions a while back and they caught a lot of students out. What makes this story worth special mention this year is that a lot of candidates are looking back at their exams and asking “Where did I go wrong?” Quite often easy marks are lost on these early questions asking students about the basic features and operations that constitute daily British political life. Below I separate out the respective roles of MPs and Ministers, although please note the list is not prescriptive or exhaustive.read more...»
This is essentially a posting about the virtues of the CNN app for US Politics students
The second in a new series of A Level Politics eBooks by Andrew Ellams examines the core specification topics related to US political parties.read more...»
This superb new eBook by Andrew Ellams, available now from tutor2u, provides comprehensive coverage of the key exam topics on US`elections. Details of the content is provided further below.read more...»
There is a growing list of Politics teaching colleagues and departments who are active on Twitter - sharing links, resources, opinions and much more. We have listed a selection of Politics Teachers on Twitter below. Well worth following them. Don’t forget to contact us via twitter if you would like to be added to this list.read more...»
On Twitter I have been posting links to news stories that are an essential daily read for students of Politics that I have come across as part of my personal reading on the web.
This type of heads up on what is in the news is not a substitute for students doing their own reading, but I know that for many students it is the case that there is so much information freely available on the web that it is not always easy to discriminate between items in terms of their direct relevance to the syllabus. This is where the posts are supposed to fill the gap. Just a couple of links each day, and if students have time to read more then they can use these stories as a starting point for further browsing.
My students have already said they find it useful, and I hope more can.
Follow me on @bgsmacca
I’ve just penned an article auditing Cameron’s style of premiership, and hope you will see it in the next edition of FPTP.
Here are the background articles I used.
Useful perhaps if you want students to carry out an exhibition on the power of the PM, or the Tory Party at the beginning of AS. Some, not many, require entry to the Times online via the paywall.read more...»
I have made a couple of additions to my Politics reading list, which should be of interest to anyone looking to support their UCAS application with evidence of some depth to their interest of politics.
The following can also be useful as a guide for those who want to read around the subject.
Those titles below marked with a double asterisk were highlighted as being helpful by successful applicants for PPE.
One of the critical differentiating factors in the AS units is essay technique.
Here are a few short tips, with an example of how these tips can be applied on the topic of PM/Cabinet.read more...»
Some interesting insights on powers/role of the PM, relations with Cabinet, and role of Cabinet in last night’s Dispatches.
These up-to-date examples should help strengthen answers on this, the most popular Unit 2 topic area.
Just over 20 days left to catch More 4’s excellent behind the scenes documentary on Britain’s Supreme Court.
BBC Radio 4’s Eddie Mair has a reputation for asking left-field questions of his interviewees that go right to the heart of an issue and put the interviewee on the spot. Here is a classic example, when Mair interviewed Francis Maude (current Minister for the Cabinet Office) about a project he has to drive through government - the Big Society. The Coalition has called for every adult to play their part in the Big Society by supporting voluntary organisations. You can guess what the next question might be - why wasn’t Maude prepared?read more...»
A great doc on Reagan is still avaliable on iplayer. The second half is strong on the strategies employed by Reagan as President in an attempt to fulfil the expectations that American people have of the POTUS.
A Californina sized hat tip to Ben on the Economics blog for highlighting the existence of this excellent graphic which compares US states to nations in terms of the size of their economies and populations.
I know this is thinking ahead, but after the AS exams any potential A2 American Politics groups I have are offered the chance to enter the post AS competition on America’s geography, demography and population - regular readers may have read about this exercise in previous postings.
Are politicians getting posher? This week Andrew Neil investigates whether Britain’s political class is once agaim dominated by those coming from privileged backgrounds. Here he is on the One show.
BBC blurb: “David Cameron and Nick Clegg seem made for each other: Eton and Oxford meets Westminster School and Cambridge. But does the return of public school boys to the top of our politics say something worrying about the decline of social mobility in Britain?
Andrew Neil goes on a journey from the Scottish council house he grew up in to the corridors of power to ask if we will ever again see a prime minister emerge from an ordinary background like his.
In this provocative film Andrew seeks to find out why politicians from all parties appear to be drawn from an ever smaller social pool - and why it matters to us all.”
A Times article on Clegg and Cameron.
Wednesday, 21:00 on BBC Two (England, Northern Ireland, Wales only)
BBC Parliament broadcasted an excellent “The Record Europe” programme over the Christmas period. It is something of s shame that the EU has been trimmed from the AS course since I think it is a fascinating political project and in the UK there is a great deal of myth and propaganda about it.
This recording is on iplayer and features the normally controversial Nigel Farage.
If there isn’t time to squeeze it into lesson delivery then I think it is worth considering as an off syllabus project as part of a Politics Society feature. It might also interest Route D followers.
The new, 2011 edition of our popular Edexcel AS ExamBuster is now available. Comprehensively updated by author Mike McCartney, ExamBuster 2011 contains core material for the early questions, with comprehensive examples throughout. For the later sections of the Edexcel AS exams the guide provides the key arguments necessary to give candidates the toolkit required to construct answers to those questions posed in the exam hall. In addition, the pack also contains important hints and tips on answer technique based on the past performance of candidates in the Edexcel examinations. Highly recommended.
Reapportionment and redistricting takes place after each decennial census. Figures for the 2010 census are due to be released shortly, and this USA Today video gives a short and helpful explanation of the reapportionment process.
You may have thought that George W Bush’s comments, following publication of his autobiography Decision Points, about being called a racist by Kanye West being the low point of his presidency would be the last we would hear of the New Orleans saga with regards to race. Not so. There is an ongoing trial of five officers into their involvement in the killing of a suspected looter.
If you operate a Politics Society and show films, documentaries that are not directly related to the syllabus you are studying, but are of genuine interest to students, or if you like watching a documentary of an evening at home, here is a pointer to a trio coming up on the beeb soon.read more...»
Here is a post script to my previous entry on this site.
Forget slanging matches on the BBC’s Question Time, and questions about SC’s latest dress combo. Politics is about the efficacy of government and the inter-relationship and dynamics of the the structures it has in place.
Will DC’s plans to cut the number of MPs and also increase the number of Lords decrease the ability of Parliament to do its job effectively? And a piece from the same paper, but written by someone who knows a thing or two (!) about government and politics.
Here are links to two articles that say not. A piece from the Observer staff.
A heads up on a great site for checking up on the ballot measures at next week’s polls (what one commentator is calling indecision day).
Interesting stuff. You probably know Californians will decide on marijuana use, but what about states considering a ban on affirmative action?
I think I blogged on this previously, but here is a reminder of a neat little exercise for teachers and students. It doesn’t take long, and proved highly popular with my students last year.
Here are my choices of the best articles for class discussion from the papers on Saturday and Sundayread more...»
Bolivian President Evo Morales fails to play fairread more...»
The October 2010 edition of FPTP, our digital magazine for A Level Politics teachers and students, is now available to subscribers. The articles are described briefly below.
A whole-school subscription to FPTP is just £50 and can be ordered hereread more...»
Last night I popped over to a talk by Adam Boulton - Political Editor of Sky News - given at our school’s political society. It was a fascinating hour in the company of one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to the hidden wiring of British politics. Here is a collection of some of my tweetsread more...»
What conclusions, if any, can we draw from the Tea Party surge within the Republican Party?
A good idea for encouraging students to keep up-to-date with political developments is to slot into the weekly timetable a regular media slot.
If you are a student of American politics, then this post early in the academic year could well be my most important…
These are the sites I most frequently plunder when trying to keep abreast of developments in US politics. These are also the places therefore that I suggest students of the subject try to access as much as possible when trying to get to grips with the politics of the USA. In the same way as linguists recommend immersion learning when studying a new language, getting stuck into some of the US sites really does help.read more...»
Here is a starter activity that might help get your new Politics students (and the old, experienced, cynical ones too) working well together at the start of term.
This is a series of bingo cards, each of which features a 4x5 grid of well-known UK politicians. I say well known - but will your students know them too?
The bingo game works so simply. At the back of the file (linked below) are a couple of call cards. You dont have to shout them out in the order provided, so long as you tick the names off as they are called.
Call out the politician’s name from the call card. If the student (s) recognise him/her, they can tick it off their bingo card.
First student / team to get a column of four correct can win a prize or points. Then the first to get a completed row of five correct. Finally, more points or prizes available for the first to complete a whole card. There are two bingo cards on each A4 page, and 40 pages in total - so plenty to use (and they are all different). Enjoy.
If you like this resource, come over to our Facebook page and let us know. Perhaps suggest some other politicians you’d like us to include in the next version. Perhaps suggest another list we could could use for a new image-based bingo game (e.g. international politicians, world leaders, famous political buildings or events?).
Accessing a quality daily is an absolute must for students new to the study of British politics. But from experience I know that students find it difficult to know what to focus on, what particularly useful articles or comment pieces look like compared to analysis that isn’t directly relevant to the course.
Here on the blog I will try to provide some direction.read more...»
The September 2010 edition of FPTP is now available featuring eight great, topical articles from Rachel and her team of Politics Teachers and Examiners. The topics covered for September 2010 are:
* Europe: Where does the coalition stand? (Julie Smith)
* 2010 Senate Primaries – insurgent versus incumbent candidates (Nicolas Graham)
* The Coalition Government- The first 100 days (Rachel Fairhead)
* Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and the mid-term elections? (Nicholas Graham)
* Are judges in the United States political? (Kevin Bloor)
* The AV Referendum (Rachel Fairhead)
* Proposition 8 in California – where now? (Nicholas Graham)
* What’s next for UKIP? The leadership contest (Rachel Fairhead)
A whole-school subscription to FPTP is just £50 and can be ordered here
We have a new Facebook page and it will be full of news, links to resources and other goodies as the year develops. Have a look here! And perhaps sign up as a facebook fan!
A series in the Observer this week provides a rich source of material for teachers to plunder, or for students to use as part of a research exercise.
When conducting research for my previous posting I came across this. It seems that I can’t include three youtube clips in one posting, and it is a shame not to share this if you haven’t already seen it.
Down the left hand side of this page, often newsmax ask you to vote on whether Sarah Palin would get your vote in 2012. She is the theme of this posting.
I’ve come across a link to a host of documentaries that can be accessed online.
Further to my earlier posting on resources for the UK syllabus, listed below are the US books I have as desk copies.
If you are on the look out for resources, here is a list of British politics text books I found useful in teaching.
The House of Lords Constitution Committee’s Twelfth Report focused on Referendums in the United Kingdom and this document provides a wealth of background information for teachers and students.
A good resource from Google with the opportunity to enter your class or school’s votes into the election map, and be part of the national survey of how young people would vote.
Lots of developments recently regarding arms treaties and the control of nuclear weapons. This neat interactive graphic summarises which nation states currently have nuclear weapons, and also provides a summary timeline of the Arms Race
Further evidence that the judiciary can be engaging topic and one ripe for debate has cropped up just a few hours ago with news that Labour ministers and their counterparts on the opposition benches have turned DNA retention by the police into a political football.
You may remember that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled in late 2008 that keeping the DNA details of innocent suspects was in breach of Article 8 of the rights convention, covering the right to privacy. In one sense this shows how the judiciary has sought to protect the rights of citizens, but the judiciary, of course, had no police force, and the government appealed whilst not altering policy. Hardly, therefore, very good protection.read more...»
Over the next few weeks I will try to provide important updates of examples that students can employ in exams.
First off, the always popular PM power debate. It’s incredible to think that about two thirds of the way through the current election campaign, Gordon Brown will have been PM for longer than John Kennedy was the American President. By my rough calculations JFK was President for 1036 days, and Brown has been in Number 10 for 1014 days. What’s my point? Brown often barely gets a mention in essays analysing where power lies within the core executive.
An article by Nicholas Watt in today’s Guardian got me thinking about how we can apply our wider reading in the exam hall.read more...»
This four minute TED talk is quite entertaining with a useful message - the potential for users online to create momentum and finally persuade a government to postpone a controversial project. The Founder of Reddit talks about how his users energised a Greenpeace campaign to stop whaling by the Japanese government.
Can the collective voice of soccer fans have an impact at the forthcoming General Election? This post from Henry Winter raises some fascinating questions about the potential for a new breed of supporter-led pressure groups who have the passion and sophistication to use the power of social action to drive for new legislation governing football ownership and finance.
Advance notice of a couple of Vietnam related documentaries this week as part of the excellent Storyville series. Vietnam is a war that has left deep scars on the American psyche and heavily shaped US foreign policy through to the 9/11 era. Monday 15 February, BBC4 10pm.
The demon sheep ad produced as part of the Republican Senate primary campaign in California is being widely hailed as a pythonesque absurd spoof, but is actually a sign of poor political taste…read more...»
The first in a three part series on the great departments of state kicked off on BBC4 last night. You can catch this one on the Home Office for the next 21 days on iplayer here. It really was a fascinating insight into the internal politics of Whitehall.
Next week’s is on the Foreign Office, it should be equally fascinating. Michael Cockerill is a great documentary maker.
A little while back I penned an article for t2u’s digital politics magazine outlining the steps that would need to be taken for electoral reform to become a reality for Westminster. In summary, these were: a possible hung parliament; a PM committed to change; a majority of Cabinet; MP support; safe passage through the Lords; and at some stage in all of this a plebiscite of the people.
Like an alignment of the stars, this seems to be taking shape.
Yesterday’s vote on a vote in the Commons on AV brings us closer to moving from simple plurality than at any stage in recent history.
The BBC has some great graphics on how a remodelled election would have played out over the past three decades. Useful stuff for considering the merits of change. From a personal perspective, this move by Labour continues the British tradition of tinkering with the constitution for reasons of short term political expediency. In other words, Brown is trying to cuddle up to the Lib Dems—a horrible image for all sorts of reasons.
I’m sure teachers of American Politics won’t need reminding about the virtues of watching the Daily Show, but students may need a gentle reminder.
The episode broadcast in the UK last night contained a hilarious analysis of Sarah Palin’s major speech at the Tea Party conference in Nashville. Palin is a phenomenon and never quite manages to steer herself away from unintended controversy. If you’re not sure what I’m on about watch a replay from the Channel 4 website. Of course, Jon Stewart is presenting from a left wing perspective and I share many of his personal biases, so it may not be to everyone’s taste!!
Many thanks to Andy Lawrence for producing this revision quiz on Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations:
Launch quiz on Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations
How successful has Obama been in delaing with Congress?
Listen to this audio clip from national public radio to find out!
From the BBC website.
A useful Q&A on electoral reform explaining the AV debate and providing an overview of the operation of the various systems used in the UK in plain English.
I’ll file this away for use when doing Unit 1 revision later in the year.
There’s a useful two page spread on Obama’s presidency one year on in today’s Independent—here is the link to the web version.
The BBC devotes a special section to the one year anniversary.
And see how you get on with the one year quiz!!!
I’m definitely going to use all the abundant material for students to do a webquest presentation on his first year. A nice way to start Unit 4C having just completed the 3C exam. Andy Lawrence has posted details of a similar exercise on Cameron the t2u Pol teachers forum.
More interesting stuff on Obama for teaching and learning. A great article on Obama and race here. Younge is a corking journalist who has written two very readable books on the US, which are suggested reading for students of America. He has also made a documentary for the World Service entitled “Opposing Obama”, first airing scheduled for the 1st of Feb. List of times is here.
Obama and me on BBC Two might not offer great academic insight, but may give you a slice of insight into modern America.
Many thanks to Rachel Fairhead who has produced another classroom poster set - time focusing on electoral systems. The topics covered are:
- The Functions of Elections
- Elections used in the UK
- The First Past the Post System
- The arguments for and against the FPTP system
- Different types of electoral system available to use
- Examples of Plurality, Majoritarian, Hybrid, PR Systems
- The strengths and weaknesses of the different alternative systems
- Electoral reform
There’s a raft of material out there on Obama at the moment to coincide with the President’s first year in office. This seems like the second anniversary in recent months since the media sought to celebrate his “first year” back in Nobvember when, of course, this marked 12 months since he was elected, not when he was sworn in.
For the next few days you can see the second part of Simon Schama’s BBC documentary on Obama.
A stunning online slideshow here from Reuters tells the story of a decade of global terror and violence. Many of the images are hard-hitting. All are thought-provoking. An amazing resource to use as stimulus material for Politics units covering global issues.
BBC Political Editor takes us on a 5 minute video guide through the House of Commons as part of the excellent Democracy Live service
A super new interactive resource here from the BBC which allows users to track the trends, data and events behind the opinion polls over the last 20-30 years.
Many thanks to Rachel Fairhead for producing another super set of classroom posters - this time on the UK Judicial system.
I’m delighted that tutor2u has been asked to organise the 2010 edition of Challenge the Chancellor - a popular Spring term competition that is open to Politics students. More details can be found here on the competition home page of the Business Studies blog. Its a great and simple competition to enter, with some lovely prizes too.
Many thanks to Andy Lawrence for putting together this Auction House starter activity / quiz on Anarchism…read more...»
I wonder if this clip by Tim Harford will provoke debate among students about race, whether in the UK or the USA.
Want to get a flavour of the degree of partisanship in modern American politics?
Say the Observer:
“Glenn Beck is a TV host, bestselling author and the most influential voice on the rightwing Fox channel. Now, even some Republicans worry that the extreme and maverick views of Beck and his supporters will make their party unelectable. Is the TV tail wagging the political dog?”
Read the rest of the article and listen to this classic five minute radio rant by the man himself. It takes a little time to load up, but it is hilarious. And just a little bit scary!read more...»
I’ve just sent this to my upper sixth sets. It may be of some wider use.
Many thanks to Rachel Fairhead for writing the first in a new series of classroom poster collections for AS/A2 Government and Politics…read more...»
For reasons that are possibly too mundane to go into I have just read the special report on Texas from a summer edition of the Economist.
It is absolutely fascinating as a means of gaining a deeper insight into a rapidly changing state, and is a treasure trove of Americana. Did you know for instance that Texas is one of four states where whites are a minority, or that tequila was invented there?
Lone Star rising
The best and worst of Texas
The red and the blue
The new face of America
Iain Martin has an exclusive over at the Wall Street Journal. He has been been handed a dodgy dossier which details the Conservative leadership’s fraught decision making process as they attempted to come up with the new policy. It is based on minutes of top secret meetings held in recent months and for historians offers a rare glimpse of the inner workings of the Tory high command.
The BBC has launched a new online service that should make tracking politics on film easier.
There’s also a very useful section on the various governing institutions, what powers they have, and so forth.
I also came across a section on the online archives on Mrs Thatcher. Lots of clips and Panorama interviews that I once stored on VHS tapes.
Is available as a pdf from the New Statesman website, and contains lots of useful stuff on where to study Politics as well as a guide from a number of authors about one new and one old book those interested in politics should read.
The Thick of It returns this weekend with an eight week run on BBC Two and I for one cannot wait! The foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker has a new Secretary of State to deal with. Fans of In The Loop and earlier series of the Thick of It can now organise their Sunday nights until Christmas! Here is a preview article from the Independent.
The CBI’s report on funding of higher education throws up an array of possibilities as a teaching tool
Watch this report by Lyndsey Hilsum from Wednesday’s Channel 4 news.
There’s lots of writing in today’s Guardian which overlaps with the kind of stuff that has been cropping up in discussion in my introductory lessons.
Here Michael White delivers a forensic, but short, analysis of what the future holds for the Green Party.
There’s a very useful section on the Guardian website which picks out the best political articles and columns.
I’ve just received news of an exciting opportunity to hear the deputy PM in all but name speak on the electoral challenges facing his government. Given that it’s this following Monday, It’s probably too short notice for our classes to make the trip into town given all the health and safety compliance that would need to be done. But one would hope that readers of the blog will be able to make it.
Read on for further details.read more...»
Details of national A level figures in today’s Telegraph suggest a recent surge of interest in study of Politics.
Hillary Clinton is the Secretary of State!read more...»
What do a couple of the most powerful men in the world get up to at international summits?read more...»
Further to an earlier posting, I have details of the report I set for my post AS groups entitled “A political introduction to America”. Participation was voluntary and the quality of entries was high.
Congratulations to Rebecca Salkeld, who in 2,000 words produced an excellent piece that is as good as could be expected from a candidate who has only been studying US Politics for a couple of weeks.
Rebecca’s submission is posted below, and the Amazon vouchers will be winging their way to her email account soon.read more...»
For fans of the classic comedy series “The Day Today”, you may think that this is the work of another set of comedians of a similarly twisted disposition.read more...»
The latest articles on First Past the Post - tutor2u’s digital magazine for Politics Teachers and Students - are now available to download:
BNP on the rise?
This article examines the importance of electoral participation.
Brown on the brink
This article looks back at the week which contained the resignation of six cabinet ministers and a disastrous set of local election results for New Labour.
Here we assess New Labour’s devolution settlement ten years on.
Prospects for electoral reform
Despite Gordon Brown’s promise of a review of the election system, fptp is unlikely to be replaced in the foreseeable future.
Federalism in the Obama era
An update on federal-state relations in 2009.
The latest in a series of comparative politics articles looks at how well legislatures in the UK and USA control the executive.
USA: people and politics
Before embarking on study of the politics of America, it is useful to have some understanding of its people. Here we look at demographic change in the country.
I can recommend visiting the Politics and History blog at Nonsuch High School. Fresh and topical - a great example of how to maintain an excellent departmental blog.
I came across this fascinating conversation between behavioural economist Dan Ariely and Evan Davis on the Today programme which explores why many people choose to cheat a little - there is a strong connection here between rules, social norms and the behaviour of MPs.
Anyone looking at synoptic questions about the ability of the UK and US political systems to uphold civil liberties may wish to consider this story.read more...»
I’ve put together a list of resources on President Obama. This could be accessed by students or teachers for a host of purposes.read more...»
A few quick questions to work on for students starting a US Politics courseread more...»
Friday’s Guardian has a double page wallchart of the new government. It is also available as a pdf - looks nice slotted into student folders.
Some hints and tips with approaching the forthcoming US Politics examsread more...»
William Hague doesnt want to answer questions about the “elephant in the room” - the tax status of Lord Ashcroft, the financier bankrolling the Conservative election campaign. That’s despite Jeremy Paxman asking him a few times…read more...»
Here are details of an idea about getting something interesting and productive done once students come back after the AS exams. If you are one of the lucky institutions that doesn’t welcome back students after AS exams are over, then this could work equally well as a bit of summer homework.read more...»
A must-watch video shows Conservative MP facing the media and his constituents after a meeting of party members….read more...»
A classic example of how a well-orchestrated pressure group campaign can result in a dramatic change of government policy.read more...»
I’ve come across this useful primer from the New York Times on the race for the presidency
A note, with links to Amazon, on three new editions in the run up to exam timeread more...»
How one of this blogger’s favourite TV shows may help with revision
Nick Robinson has written an excellent blog piece about comparisons between the first ever Prime Minister and the current one. Details of his related BBC Radio4 programme are here as well.
From the trailer this looks like a compelling production, so it’s recommended viewing for all Politics students.
26 Feb 2009, 21:00 on BBC Two
From the BBC press office:read more...»
Buried in the Education section of Tuesday’s Guardian is an interview with Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at Oxford. Bogdanor is one of the most established authorities on the constitution and some of his observations are useful when considering the impact of constitutional reforms undertaken by Labour post 1997.read more...»
It has been reported in the press this week that a landlord is fighting the police over their insistence that he install CCTV cameras in his pub. Elsewhere doctors have spoken out against governmennt plans to widen access to medical records to all Whitehall departments. These two events come in the week that a House of Lords committee published a damning report on the threat to liberty brought about by the development of a surveillance state. A great site for exploring the latest news on attempts by the state to erode the liberties of the people living in the oldest parliamentary democracy, the land of Locke and Mille is here.
I was talking today to my AS class about easy ways to keep up to date with politics as they are so reluctant to read a “proper paper” (no, I tell them, the Metro doesn’t count). I suggested that they dip into some of the range of excellent podcasts that are available.read more...»
Yesterday I had one of the most animated group discussions in some time when discussing the relative effectiveness of crime strategies which focused on prevention versus tougher deterrants in the shape of stiffer prison sentences. It seems incredibly difficult to square a circle which desires more liberalisation in the shape of personal freedoms versus an approach to solving crime that doesn’t come straight out of a Daily Mail editorial page.
Today there is an agency report suggesting that certian class A drugs be downgraded. More food for thought when discussing civil liberties, law and order, etc.
See the Big Question as a starting off point.
Thought I’d use this space to echo Jim Riley’s offer in the recent teacher newsletter to appeal to any blog readers who are experienced teachers or examiners who may be interested in writing either for this blog or for first past the post, tutor2u’s digital Politics magazine.
Contributing certainly aids professional development, and I’m sure subscribers to both services would like to see more diverse opinion than my tired ramblings.
If you would like to get involved, please contact Jim Riley via the contact form.
We’ve just kicked off our study (after a bonus two days rest due to snow) of the Edexcel Unit 6 paper examining the UK and US political systems in a comparative context. It can seem a bit daunting at first to draw together different strands of the course and compare and contrast them meaningfully. And for some at the moment it seems like I am asking them to compare apples and bananas. Possible, but perhaps a bit pointless. So I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I expressed to my classes on this since there may be blog readers out there in a similar predicament.read more...»
I make a big play to students thinking of signing up for Politics in the sixth form (and we don’t do too badly for numbers - roughly a quarter of the lower sixth take the subject, and we are the 4th most popular in terms of bums on seats in that year group) that at the very least they will end one year of study with a good understanding of how their country’s governmental systems works. But do they? The conscientious class student should end up with more ability than the man in the street to discuss the workings of the single transferable vote, or be able to recognise that the introduction of a new Parliament at Holyrood has thrown into sharp relief the problems of asymmetrical devolution.
But when it gets to the nuts and bolts of legislating and governing, what then?read more...»
The new edition of first past the post, tutor2u’s digital Politics magazine, has been posted on the site.
Given the importance of the recent American elections, there is a bit of a US slant, but there are great articles covering UK politics, the EU, UK issues, as well as political ideologies.read more...»
A pointer towards a raft of events that will undoubtedly be of interest to teachers and/or students.
First up, notification of an excellent study tour opportunity in April for teachers from the European Atlantic Movement:
‘This is a study tour for Lecturers, Teachers, other Professional and Business People who are interested in visiting the institutions of Western Co-operation and discussing current affairs
The party will visit the European Parliament, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the European Commission, the Council of the European Union among others. Briefings, Q & A sessions and opportunities to gather supportive literature will for part of every visit.
The cost including travel by Eurostar and 3 nights en suite accommodation with breakfast at the 4* Hotel Carrefour de l’Europe which is situated in the centre of Brussels.’
Sometimes there is little to report from the weekend’s press in terms of must read British Politics stories, but this weekend is the polar opposite.
There is an excellent article by Nick Cohen about how reform is driven by short term political expedeincy rather than long term thinking about the rational basis of change.
One to cut out and keep for when covering this topic.
Yes, that’s a young Gordon.
Taking a break from clicking my way through student responses in Edexcel’s Unit 1 exam I have scanned the weekend’s papers looking for quality articles that could be used for the media Monday sessions. If you are unfamiliar with the concept I attempt to get my L6 students to start the week’s lessons by discussing an article they have read from the week’s press. Why? Attempting to connect with Politics as a subject has obvious dividends in helping what’s covered in class make sense, or have a sense of importance. Moreover, examining the work of quality journalists should have net gains in terms of improving political vocabulary and presenting coherent arguments. This is why sourcing one’s news from the tabloids or the free papers (which after all are just the Sun without the ridiculously bold type - come on, have you actually read a substantive article in any of those?) is insufficient if the aim is to improve quality of expression throughout the two years of A level study.
Anyway, I think the best writing on British politics I have seen comes from Saturday’s Guardian. Patrick Wintour writes on how the government’s response to the economic crisis has not left a lasting positive impression on voters.read more...»
Do we as Politics teachers sometimes presume too much about the knowledge base of our students? Should we offer a mea culpa from time to time, pause, reflect and work through what we see as the basics? Probably.
I have stumbled across this excellent guide the operation of US government. Okay, it only covers the federal branches, but it should cover a lot of the ground that I hadn’t realised needed to be covered when doing a quick bit of revision today.
Listening to the radio this morning I heard a report on Barack Obama’s attempt to woo over Republicans to support his economic stimulus plan. I thought that this would make an interesting story to relate to my British Politics students who have just started the Edexcel Unit 2 paper.read more...»
On YouTuberead more...»
Race relations in the US Politics is probably the most interesting topic as far as my current crop of students are concerned. What better time to consider whether pursuit of the American Dream is a realistic proposition for African Americans than now. The inauguration of the first ever black President suggests that equality is possible, but a couple of the YouTube clips I use when considering the issue of race in America here suggest that race remains the main dividing line issue in the USA.read more...»
A heads up for Saturday’s Independent which comes with a free DVD of the original Frost v Nixon interview. This coincides with the release of the Ron Howard film ‘Frost/Nixon’ which is due for general release on Friday. I managed to catch it when in the US recently and it really is superb - a Politics class night out to the cinema?
Also in today’s paper, with Bush’s departure and Obama’s inauguration just days away, is the start of a seven part series on the lives of the presidents. Another reason to go out and get a copy. If you want to access the info online, the web link is here.
One might be inclined to think that after one of the most exciting elections in living memory, which ended with an historic outcome, that electoral reform campaigners in the USA would have lost heart.
Not so. Check out the Presidential Elections Reform Program of the FairVote website, which carries a host of useful stuff on reform of the primaries and the electoral college—the latter is particularly helpful if you are trying to dress up what can be quite a dry topic.
I have been doing some legwork for a forthcoming article for first past the post on campaign finance in the USA. Browsing the Open Secrets site I have been fascinated by their feature on the revolving door.
As the site states:
"Although the influence powerhouses that line Washington's K Street are just a few miles from the U.S. Capitol building, the most direct path between the two doesn't necessarily involve public transportation. Instead, it's through a door—a revolving door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers. While members of the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staffers spin in and out of the private and public sectors, so too does privilege, power, access and, of course, money."
On the site you can track movement between congressional and executive offices and lobbying firms. The scale and degree of activity is quite staggering.
This is an excellent site for consolidating knowledge on this much discussed, but often misunderstood phenomenon. Note for instance, that lobby firms seek to attract those with agency/executive experience as well as congressional staffers, not just ex-congressmen.>
I wonder if you have been watching this TV miniseries on Channel 4. The next show is on Saturday 10 January at 5.15 pm.
It really is quite excellent and essential viewing for students of American Politicsread more...»
If you happen to be looking for suitable pictures to pepper your school’s intranet page with, or, say, want to add a bit of humour to a class handout, then try the Ind’y selection of George W Bush images. This link takes you to one of my favourite moments of the Bush presidency; the so called Pretzel incident.
Student’s caveat emptor
It’s fair to say that the British, and Europeans in general, can be somewhat smug when viewing goings on in the USA. On the one hand we want them to do the right thing: scrap the death penalty, tighten gun laws, etc. But on the other hand we like to sneer at their ability to get it wrong: proving what a barbaric and mixed up place it is. This is partly since it makes us feel superior. But it’s also because Americans seem overly proud of their country and their political system - viewing it as an extension of the democratic process that began with the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, habeas corpus, and the War of Independence, yet seeming to ignore that a raft of other countries in the world have made significant political advances since the birth of their nation. This explains how we can be simultaneously proud that they have elected Obama, but can also be incredulous that they elected Bush - not just once, but twice.
Anyway, reservations aired. They are funny pictures of a man that remains, to me at least, something of an enigma.
Further to an earlier posting by a fellow blogger about Bush’s legacy, I would draw your attention to a rather good article from US News.
It starts by noting how introspective the 43rd president has become in the fag end days of his time in office:
‘He finally admits that his low standing in the polls does bother him. “Everybody wants to be liked,” the normally thick-skinned president told a December 1 forum on global health. He concedes that many voters backed Democrat Barack Obama on Election Day as a protest against the Bush years. He admits to frustration with his big setbacks, especially the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was one of his main reasons for going to war there. Similarly, he is disappointed by the failure of Congress to pass his measures to overhaul immigration and Social Security, and he is distressed by the soaring level of federal spending and the continuing partisan warfare in Washington.’
Read further here and consider the following exercises:
Outline what Bush himself is said to be proud of.
What does the article view as Bush’s positive legacies.
Summarise comment on each of the following headings:
The ‘war on terror’
The war in Iraq
The financial meltdown
The elevation of Dick Cheney