This website has been designed for use by teachers of Chinese History working in UK secondary schools. It has been designed to be used with the Pre-U Chinese Syllabus for 16-18 year olds and is tailored to the topic ‘The Founding of the People’s Republic of China.’ However, the website may prove beneficial to those teaching China-related A-Level History syllabi and comparable qualifications around the world. The website also serves as a valuable revision tool for students at school and university, and an introduction to modern Chinese history for interested members of the public.
The Omeka website operates on three discrete levels:
- Items comprise a wide range of sources that could be used to augment a response to an essay question or enhance classroom discussion.They consist of party directives, autobiography, newsreel footage, propaganda posters, photography, paintings, woodblock prints and so on. These items or sources should be critically assessed by students in terms of their reliability and provenance. For example, a Chinese propaganda poster depicting an idealised version of life in a commune and a photograph taken by a foreign journalist depicting refugees after the Japanese bombing of Shanghai have varying relationships to reality. Critical reference to a specific source in an exam context should improve the quality of an answer. Items that have a specific geographical significance can also be traced on the 'Map' section of this website.
- Collections group together single sources under an overarching theme such as the Xi’an Incident, the Nanjing Decade, or the Sino-Japanese War. Looking at a group of 6-10 sources in the classroom will help consider core events and time periods from different perspectives. For example, the Nanjing Decade perceived through the eyes of the Nationalist and Communist parties could either be portrayed as a decade of prosperity or abject poverty, persecution and conflict.
- Exhibitions are the most fundamental part of the website. There are 18 discrete exhibitions covering the Xinhai Revolution to the Cultural Revolution. Exhibitions consist of an essay of circa 2000-3000 words underpinned by academic references from specialists in the field of study. This introduces students to the university style of academic-essay writing in the spirit of the Pre-U as university preparation that can extend beyond the traditional A-Level syllabi. Each exhibition begins with a factual, chronological timeline to cement knowledge of key events. The exhibitions also integrate all of the collection items. For example, the exhibition on Land Reform includes 7 sources: Mao Zedong’s report on the peasant movement in Hunan, a photograph depicting a ‘speaking bitterness meeting,’ a woodblock print depicting the same meeting in a different way, excerpts from William Hinton’s Fanshen, a photograph depicting the execution of a landlord, a photograph depicting the promulgation of the land reform act and a propaganda poster announcing the completion of land reform within two years. Together, these elements should provide students with a comprehensive overview of each core theme alongside material to critically analyse. Moreover, quizzes to test basic knowledge are included in the exhibition section. A special exhibition is dedicated to model essays of around 1000 words which provide a response to former Pre-U exam questions.