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High School History Recap

Author: William H Palk and Colin du Plessis

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The High School History Recap podcast was started by two passionate teachers from South Africa who realised the value of taking history teaching and learning beyond the confines of the textbook and classroom. Their recipe includes constructive conversations with learners and experts alike. William and Colin investigate topics covered in most history classrooms but also ask questions about how best to teach and learn these topics. They cover the "what to teach", "how to teach", "how we learn", and "thinking tools" of history teaching and learning. Find them on any podcast player platform like Apple or Spotify. Let's share the love for history. Find us on Twitter @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis. Our email address is
102 Episodes
We delve into some Irish history with Prof Liam Kennedy. Liam has published a myriad of books on Irish history. We look closely at his 2020 book "Who was responsible for the Troubles".These are some of the questions we try to answer:What is a brief definition of the Troubles?What period are we looking at?Is Ireland part of the UK?What is at the heart of the violence of the Troubles?Which events led up to the Troubles?How did the division/partition of the island of Ireland come about?Why are the Troubles often described as a religious conflict?How does Irish English differ from British English?What are the roots of the ancient Gaelic language? What does it sound like?How did markers like Catholicism and Protestantism perpetuate divisions?Why does this division not extend to the Irish rugby team?Which events between the 1920s and 1960s laid the foundation for the Troubles?What was the nature of the Civil Rights Movement in Ulster?How successful was the Civil Rights Movement in bringing about equality in Northern Ireland?How did the IRA differ from the provisional IRA?Did the Republic of Ireland support the provisional IRA?What was the international extent of the Troubles?Why is December 1969 considered a turning point in the start of the Troubles?What was the nature of the conflict during the Troubles? What were Bloody Sunday and Bloody Friday?Who is responsible for starting/perpetuating the Troubles?Who were the leaders of the IRA?Why is the role of regional paramilitary groups so obscure?Why can't the Troubles be seen as a binary conflict?How did the Good Friday Agreement come about?How did Brexit change the dynamic on the island of Ireland?Who is the new IRA?Please send your questions and suggestions to or find us on Twitter @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis.Thanks for listening!Support the show
Link to Untextbooked.Have you ever heard about the East Bank Location Massacre on 9 November 1952? Neither have we. Dr Mignonne Breier joins us to talk about her book Bloody Sunday in which she uncovered the gruesome details of this massacre that upends the conventional apartheid narrative.Here are some of the questions we consider:Why do so few people know about the East Bank Location / Duncan Village Massacre?How was it possible to hide the murders of 200 people?Where is East Bank Location?Was it just geographical isolation or a purposeful cover-up?What is the story behind the East Bank Location / Duncan Village Massacre?What was the involvement of the ANC in arranging the meeting? Why didn't they expose the massacre?Who was Sister Aidan? Did her murder exacerbate events?How were the people of East Bank Location / Duncan Village killed?How does Bloody Sunday (the East Bank Location / Duncan Village Massacre) change the apartheid narrative?How would this massacre have changed people's perceptions of apartheid if they had known about it?Why did the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) fail to uncover the massacre?Why did protesters' families not report their loved ones' deaths to the police?Why did Mignonne choose the title "Boody  Sunday"?How should we memorialize the Duncan Village Massacre of 1952?Why were the deaths of the people of Duncan Village dismissed?How did seven years of research change Mignonne's perception of South Africa's past?How does this story become part of the "conventional" apartheid narrative?What is Mignonne's advice to young people?You can email Dr Mignonne Breier at or find her on Twitter @MignonneBreier. Send your questions and suggestions to @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis.Please consider buying us a coffee if you've enjoyed this episode.Support the show
In this episode, we get our hands dirty with some military history. Prof Timothy Stapleton of the University of Calgary joins us to discuss South Africa's turbulent past. We look at wars from the earliest colonial times to the end of apartheid.These are the questions we try to answer:What is Prof Timothy Stapleton's connection to South Africa?Why do humans go to war?Is warfare irrational?How does the approach of the military historian differ from that of the ordinary historian?Do military historians glorify warfare?How are South African wars best categorised?Is there a unifying factor or golden thread to South Africa's military history?How did the British colonisation of the Cape Colony tip the balance of power?Did the Zulu kingdom manage to build a standing army?Which of the South African wars deserves its own movie?What is the link between the Mineral Revolution and warfare in South Africa?How significant was the South African War (Second Anglo-Boer War) in shaping modern-day South Africa?How did World War I divide South African society?Did the Second World War play into the creation of the apartheid state?When and where did the apartheid wars take place?Why are historians reluctant to talk about the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale?How did warfare bring about the end of apartheid?Are there any major security threats for the people of the African continent?To what extent does foreign intervention contribute to warfare in Africa?Where in Africa can we expect an upsurge in violence?You can email Prof Timothy Stapleton at us on Twitter @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis.Click on the link below if you want to support the show. Thanks for listening!Support the show
How should we combat misinformation in the history classroom? What does it take to stop misinformation at the outset? Dr Jon Roozenbeek is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and joins us to discuss his team's latest research on "prebunking" misinformation.Some of the questions we try to answer:Did Covid-19 contribute to an increase in fact-checking?Did the extent of misinformation grow in the last couple of months?What is the history of misinformation?How does prebunking misinformation differ from fact-checking?What does the Theory of Inoculation describe?What is the link between misinformation and social media usage?Are some social media platforms more prone to spreading misinformation?Does misinformation always rely on manipulation techniques?What are some examples of manipulation techniques?How easy was it to scale research on misinformation?Why does it work to "inoculate" people against misinformation?Why shouldn't we tell people what to believe?What is psychological reactance?Can you change attitudes with facts alone?Are we wired to be sceptical about the truth?What is more critical, cognition or being sociable?What is the future of misinformation?Should teachers play a more prominent role in fighting misinformation?Find Jon on Twitter @roozenbot and the five prebunking misinformation videos on Youtube.Send your questions and suggestions to @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis.Thanks for listening!Support the show
Many streets and clinics bear Lilian Ngoyi's name, but who was she and what was the nature of her accomplishments as an anti-apartheid activist? Dr Martha Evans is working on a substantive biography of Ma'Ngoyi and joins us to share some interesting insights about Lilian's remarkable life. Here are some of the questions we try to answer:Why is Lilian called "the mother of black resistance against apartheid"?What was apartheid South Africa like?What is narrative literary journalism?Why are there so few historical sources on Lilian's life?What are the details of Lilian Ngoyi's life?Why didn't Lilian pursue her dream of becoming a nurse?How did living in the Shelters raise Lilian's political awareness?Was Lilian a founding member of FEDSAW?How did the Defiance Campaign contribute to Lilian's rise in the ranks of the ANC?Was there a conflict of interest between the ANC and being a member of FEDSAW?How did Lilian's travels to China and the Soviet Union change her perspectives?What put Lilian on the radar of the apartheid government?What was the Women's March of 9 August 1956 about?Why does Lilian's political career seem shortlived?What was it like to be banned and placed under house arrest?Why didn't she receive more support while she was alive?What should Lilian Ngoyi be remembered for?What would have been Lilian's message to women today?What was Lilian and Mandela's relationship like?What is Martha's favourite thing about Lilian Ngoyi?You can contact Dr Martha Evans at email or Twitter handle @MarthaEvans16. Please send your questions and suggestions to @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis. Thanks for listening.Support the show
Prof Bob Bain joins us, probably one of the biggest names in history teaching. This conversation brought a whole new dimension to what effective history teaching should look like.Questions we set out to answer:Does Bob Bain play the guitar?Why are all historians, in essence, teachers?The power of that ONE inspirational history teacher/lecturerWhy in the world would anyone want to study history?What is the purpose of situating the present in the context of the past?How do we deal with different accounts of the past?What is the OERProject all about?How is the OERProject different from typical MOOCs?How did the OERProject come about?What is the difference between Big History, World History or Global History?How does scale influence our understanding of the past?How do we link all the ways in which historians write history?What is the importance of scale switching?Does Big History move beyond the scope of history itself?"Bain's Hall" as a thinking tool in the history classWhy are claim testers central to the OERProject?How should history content/skills be assessed?How can history teachers be more innovative?Why should we be more mindful of employing thinking tools in the history classroom?Bob's favourite history booksBob's motivational words for history teachersBooks mentioned: "The Idea of History" by RG Collingwood and "Historians' Fallacies" by David Hackett Fischer.Visit the OERProject at and find Prof Bob Bain on Twitter @bain_bob.Please send your comments and suggestions to @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis on Twitter.Thanks for listening!Support the show
In this first episode of our fifth season, we explore the field of learning. Dr Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel is a cognitive psychologist who specialises in how we learn best. She is part of an inspiring initiative called the Learning Scientists. She shares some of her valuable insights with us.Questions we explore:Is there a trick or a secret to communicating "science"?What motivated Carolina to take up a specialisation in learning?How do we find a balance between what and how we teach and how people learn?Briefly, what are the six learning strategies? The strategies include retrieval practice, spaced practice, elaboration, interleaving, concrete examples and dual coding.Do we remember visuals better than words?Are then any pitfalls to using the six learning strategies?How important is routine in learning?What is the importance of testing the learning strategies?How should we go about finding evidence-based content on the subject of learning?Books mentioned: Powerful Teaching by Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain, Uncommon Sense Teaching by Barbara Oakley, Beth Rogowsky and Terrence Sejnowski, How Learning Happens by Carl Hendrick and Paul Kirschner, Small Teaching by James Lang, any book by Kate JonesBlogs mentioned: The Learning Scientists (of course) and The Effortful Educator by Blake HarvardPodcasts: Besides The Learning Scientists also Exam Study Expert by William Wadsworth or The HippoCampus Podcast by Lisa QuinnHow do the Learning Scientists decide on which topics to cover?A quick question on intersectionality...Are there different learning strategies for content and skills?Is scaffolding retrieval practice good practice?How does a learning expert design a lesson?Is the school model compatible with the research findings on how we learn best?Find Dr Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel on Twitter @pimpmymemory and the Learning Scientists @AceThatTest. Visit and listen to their podcast at The Learning Scientists Podcast.Please send your comments and suggestions to @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis.Thanks for listening!Support the show
The following twitter post accompanies this episode of The Cradock Four. historian, Zikhona Valela, joins us to talk about the Cradock Four and, more specifically, misinformation around the supposed famous photo of the Cradock Four. Zikhona tells the story of the four men who were murdered on June 27th, 1985. How did it happen that two of the four men, and the trauma of their families, were actually erased from the historical record? Why do we continue sharing convenient narratives that are, on closer inspection, inaccurate and untrue? Zikhona helps us to piece together some of the missing parts of the Cradock Four. We also consider some of the failures of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).Some of the questions asked:Who were Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli?What motivated Zikhona to fight misconceptions about the past?Is the South African public apathetic about their past?How should we go about dispelling misinformation about the past?What is missing from the conventional narrative of the Cradock Four?How do we do the story of the Cradock Four justice?Is the 1980s a turning point in South African history?How did the United Democratic Front (UDF) come into existence?Is the murders of Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli a case of mistaken identity?How does the supposed photo of the Cradock Four perpetuate a false narrative?How did it happen that Mbulelo Goniwe and Madoda Jacob were erased from history?Who took the photograph of the Cradock Four? When was it taken?The importance of crediting photographersWhat did the families of the Cradock Four know before truths were revealed at the TRC?Would the truth about the Cradock Four have come to light without the perpetrators testifying before the TRC?Why did the Mbeki government not proceed with TRC recommendations?Why was the late 1980s and early 1990s more violent than earlier decades?Why would some people think of Nelson Mandela as a sell-out?What were some of the failures of the TRC?What should the lesson be that we take from the story of the Cradock Four?Follow Zikhona Valela on twitter @valavoosh. Send questions and suggestions to William H Palk at @WilliamHPalk and Colin du Plessis at @C_duPlessis.Support the show
Join us for a conversation with Prof Sean McMeekin on his new book Stalin's War: A New History of World War II. This is a very timely discussion in light of the unfolding war in Ukraine.Some of the points of discussion:How is Stalin’s War different from the conventional Hitler-centric account of World War II?How is it possible to even write a new history of World War II 77 years after the fact?Is the way we teach World War II unbalanced?How likely was the Hitler-Stalin pact?What are the main differences between fascism and communism?How much of a surprise was it when Germany invaded the Soviet Union?How much of the Nazi defeat can be attributed to Stalin’s planning?What are the gaps in the conventional Hitler-centric account of the lead-up to the outbreak of World War II?Are there similarities between the invasion of Poland before World War II and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine?What about Japan’s role in the outbreak of World War II?What are the circumstances around “Poland’s betrayal” at Tehran?What did Stalin want to get out of World War II?Is Stalin a model for Putin?Is Putin trying to establish the Soviet Union?Why didn’t NATO seize to exist when the Soviet Union collapsed?Support the show
Michael joins us again to challenge some widely held beliefs about the causes of WWI. The long-term causes of World War One are often conveniently taught using the acronym MAIN, which stands for militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism. It is often argued that the presence of these ingredients in Europe made the First World War inevitable, or to use a term Michael taught us, overdetermined.  But by looking at each one of these factors, we learn that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism might have only really come to life because of the war itself! If you are comfortable with the conventional narrative and you want to keep MAIN as the centerpiece of your WWI causes, we suggest you do not listen to this episode!Support the show
In this episode we explore Civic Online Reasoning in more depth. We are joined by Dr Joel Breakstone of the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). This is in an effort to effectively fight misinformation. Why is it called Civic Online Reasoning?What does Civic Online Reasoning have to do with history?How does source analysis and source evaluation relate to Civic Online Reasoning?What does expertise look like in terms of evaluating online sources?Is misinformation a new thing?How does misinformation differ from disinformation?How do we ensure that our students access online sources more effectively?Are there skills/tools in place to fight misinformation?What exactly is lateral reading?How reliable is Wikipedia?How do we interrogate claims?Which lessons form part of the Civic Online Reasoning curriculum?What about the challenge of confirmation bias?Should we be more skeptical?The importance of finding corroborative evidenceThe importance of peer-reviewed studiesVisit the Civic Online Reasoning website for some great sources to use in the history classroom. Also follow the twitter handle @CivicOnline. Joel's twitter handle is @joelbreakstone. Please send us feedback on twitter @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis. If you like what we do, please consider rating and supporting the show.Support the show
Taylor Downing joins us again for another discussion - this time about his newest work entitled 1942: Britain at the Brink. The book and this discussion delves into the fateful year of 1942 when British morale reached a new low - military defeats abroad saw the British public lose faith in their leadership and it seemed as though wartime prime minister Winston Churchill was facing his darkest hour. Well, let me not spoil it here...let historian, writer and broadcaster, Taylor Downing tell you all about it!Support the show
In this episode Prof Peter N Stearns of the George Mason University provides an overview of the Industrial Revolution. The 5th edition of Peter's book, The Industrial Revolution in World History, was published in 2021.This is what we've discussed: How does the perspective of a world historian differ from that of an economic historian?Why is the Industrial Revolution considered the single most important development in human history over the past three centuries? Why should we study the Industrial Revolution?How should we understand the word "Revolution" as it relates to the Industrial Revolution?Was the Scientific Revolution a necessary precondition or precursor for the Industrial Revolution?Are we in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution?When and where did the Industrial Revolution start and what were some of the big moments in the story of the Industrial Revolution?Why did the Industrial Revolution start in 18th century Britain?Is the Industrial Revolution a Western phenomenon?What was the social impact of the Industrial Revolution?Did industrialization outside of the West proceed along different paths?What is the link between industrialization and globalization?Did the Industrial Revolution make the world a better place?Can industrialization be more sustainable?What are the fascinating facets of the Industrial Revolution?How did the Industrial Revolution affect schooling?Peter's advice on teaching the Industrial Revolution.You can email Prof Peter Stearns at or follow him on Twitter @StearnsPeter.Reach out to us @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis. If you like what we do, consider buying us a coffee by following the link below.Support the show
In the third part of the series, Dr Dooling tells us about the various ways in which the people of South Africa resisted the oppressive Apartheid regime.  Dr Dooling delves into the different political currents in 20th century South Africa, touching on organisations such as the the ICU, the ANC, the PAC as well as the various affiliated organisations such as the ANC Youth League, MK and Poqo. We also discuss a few of the pivotal events in South African resistance history such as the Defiance Campaign, the Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter, the Women's March and of course the tragedy at Sharpeville. Support the show
At the end of 2021, we are very fortunate to talk to Dr Joel Breakstone of the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) about their Reading Like a Historian lesson plans and Beyond the Bubble history skills assessments. We also find out more about SHEG's Civic Online Reasoning curriculum which will greatly benefit history learners in identifying misinformation.What we discuss:What does it mean to "read like a historian"?We look at the research of Sam Wineburg and Abby Reisman.How do we integrate source analysis with the conventional way of teaching history?How should we define a historical fact?What should be the starting point in the history classroom?Where does context end and where does source analysis start?How did learners react to SHEG lessons?How does the history teacher balance the different types of assessments?Can history assessment be meaningful and still allow learners to gain admission to university?How does Beyond the Bubble assessments complement the Reading Like a Historian lessons?How do we apply historical skills to fight misinformation?Why are fact checkers better at identifying problematic websites?What is lateral thinking?Tips on how to fight misinformation in the history class.Professional development courses offered by SHEG in 2022.At which age can learners start Reading Like a Historian?What projects are SHEG working on?Create your free login account on SHEG's website here. Find Dr Joel Breakstone on Twitter @joelbreakstone.Please share your questions and suggestions with us on Twitter @WilliamHPalk and @C_duPlessis.If you like what we do, please consider buying us a coffee at the support link below.Support the show
About a month ago, the University of Pretoria celebrated the life of Chief Albert Luthuli. At these celebrations, Prof Benda Hofmeyr gave a presentation on the philosophical legacy of Albert Luthuli with specific emphasis on his charismatic leadership style.What we discuss:Why did a philosophy professor take an interest in leadership styles and specifically Albert Luthuli?How does a philosophical approach to studying leadership differ from the historical approach?What is meant with a charismatic leadership style?Why did you base your interpretation of charismatic leadership on the writings of Max Weber?How did Luthuli balance his authority over others with his ability to charm them?Is charisma a personality trait or quality or something we see in the actions of a leader?Would stability not be a better leadership quality than charm?Did apartheid South Africa and the ANC foster Luthuli's charismatic leadership style?Are some people just naturally more charismatic than others?How do we identify a leader as charismatic rather than just merely effective?Why does charismatic leadership emerge in the setting of a movement for change?Is charismatic leadership something of the past?Did Albert Luthuli have a specific brand of charisma?What is the legacy of Albert Luthuli's charismatic leadership style?How close does the charismatic leader come to the idea of the philosopher king?If you want to read more of Benda's work, visit here website here.Find us on Twitter @WilliamHPalk or @C_duPlessis.Support the show
Join our history geek-out session with Kevin Manzel. Kevin is the senior director of content development at Wondrium. Colin and I are both big fans of Wondrium's history courses and use them as resources in our history classrooms.We cover the following:What is a history geek-out session?How does Wondrium connect disparate topics?What is Wondrium and how did it develop over time?What are some of the history courses on Wondrium?How does Wondrium decide which courses to develop?How does Wondrium ensure the quality and authority of its courses? How can Wondrium benefit the history teacher?An example of how to integrate Wondrium lectures into lessonsHow does Wondrium help push for different perspectives?Why is Wondrium the perfect tool for professional development?How does  the guidebook supplement a Wondrium course?How does Wondrium keep abreast with the latest research?What are the Wondrium learning paths?We share our favourite coursesAre there Wondrium courses on South African history? (Watch this space!)Learn more about Wondrium slogan "nothing about us without us"What can Wondrium subscribers look forward to in 2022?Hasan Jeffries' upcoming course on WondriumWe hope to make this a regular feature and bring you all the latest updates on Wondrium's history courses.Find Kevin Manzel on twitter or visit the Wondrium website for more info.Colin and William are available on twitter for any questions or suggestions or collaborations.Support the show
William talks to the learning expert, Donald Clark, about the history of learning theory and about the best way to teach and learn history.Questions covered:Where does Donald’s interest in history come from?How has the way in which we learn changed over time?Why is the invention of writing the “Big Bang” moment of collective learning?Why is the invention of binary or computer language such an important moment in the development of learning?Is collective learning our unique trait?How did technology enable collective learning?Who are the experts in the field of learning?Does AI or machine learning give us any insight into human learning?Would it be possible to have Wikipedia in our heads?Who are the people who have changed our perceptions of learning?What are the major strands in learning theory?Have we arrived at a more scientific approach to understanding learning?What is the connection between learning and teaching?To what extent can the teacher be held responsible for the student's learning?Does critical thinking hold up as an abstract concept?How should we teach history if learning theories are incorporated?Why is it important to make history teaching more concrete?How should history teachers think about online learning design?Why should we let go of Bloom’s taxonomy?Donald’s advice to learn more effectively...You might want to read up on the following people: James Hutton, David C Geary, Daniel Kahneman, James Mark Baldwin, Tommy Flowers, Robin Dunbar, Douglas Engelbart, Clay Shirky, Donald Hebb, Herman Ebbinghaus, Edward Tolman, Albert Bandura, Henry Roediger, Jeffrey D Karpicke, Robert A Bjork, Barak Rosenshine, Robert Marzano, John Hattie, Paul Black and Dylan William.Or just visit Donald's blog here. He is also on twitter @DonaldClark Please let us know what you thought about this episode at or find us on twitter: William and Colin.Support the show
In the second episode of the Apartheid Series we transition from the policies of Segregation in South Africa towards the implementation of Apartheid. In this episode Dr Dooling discusses some of the motivations behind the National Party's choice to put such a rigid system of racial segregation and separation in place. Topics such as Afrikaner Nationalism takes center stage as we look at why and how the NP won the 1948 elections. Some of the Apartheid laws are discussed and we look at how these laws affected the every day lives of South Africans, which will then lead us to our next episode - Resistance against Apartheid. Enjoy!Support the show
In the first episode of our Apartheid Series, Colin is joined by Dr Wayne Dooling from  the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. The conversation deals with the concept of segregation in South Africa, where it comes from and how it was implemented. As an expert on Race, Segregation, and Apartheid in Twentieth-century South Africa, Dr Dooling helps us make sense of the systems of racial separation that would lead to the overarching system of Apartheid.Support the show
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