Definition of the notion « Myths and Heroes »

What is a myth?

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A myth is a story that may or may not be true. There may not be records or other proof that they happened, but at least some parts of myths may be true. Some myths may have started as ‘true’ stories but as people re-told them some parts may have been changed by mistake, or to make them more interesting. All cultures have myths and this mythology has been developed over time. Mythology includes the legends of our history, our religions,  stories of how the world was created, and our heroes. These stories have great symbolic power, and this may be a major reason why they survive as long as they do, sometimes for thousands of years.

What is a hero?

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A hero is a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. It can be the main character in a book or a film or a person with superhuman qualities. It can also be a modern-day hero, a person who has performed a heroic act or simply our own personal hero, our role model, who we look up to.

Examples can be:

– a patriotic or national hero (sportsman, politician, human rights defender…..)

– a fictitious hero (superhero or film star)

– an icon or role model (fashion, tv, music)

– a defender of common values

– unknown heroes (war heroes, firemen, rescue workers, charity workers….)

– our own personal hero (member of the family who you look up to)

 

Oscar Pistorius – the rise and fall of a sports hero

Oscar Pistorius was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1986. At the age of 17 he won a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Athens. Famous for his artificial legs which earned him the nickname « Bladerunner » he went on to become an international sporting superstar. In the 2012 London Olympic Games he made history by becoming the first double amputee to run in Olympic Games. However the following year in February 2013, Pistorius was accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The trial started in Pretoria on Monday 3 March.

His story is the perfect example of a modern-day hero’s fall from grace.

 

Below you will find some links about the rise and fall of Pistorius:

– The story of Oscar Pistorius : http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/disability-sport/21455930

– Article « Pistorius, the fall of a Hero » : http://www.politisite.com/2014/03/04/oscar-pistorius-fall-of-a-hero/

– Article « The myth of sporting heroes » : http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2014-03-11-531f912e65221/#.U0KbKPl_tGk

– Video: The Blade runner:

– Video: Oscar’s rise and fall from stardom:

St Patrick’s Day

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St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th March – but what are the myths surrounding this religious festival?

ST. PATRICK

Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

THE FIRST ST PATRICK’S DAY PARADE

Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. Interestingly, however, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

THE CHICAGO RIVER ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY

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As Irish immigrants spread out over the United States, other cities developed their own traditions. One of these is Chicago’s annual dyeing of the Chicago River green. The practice started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river–enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, and the river turns green for only several hours.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY AROUND THE WORLD

Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.

In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, approximately 1 million people annually take part in Ireland ‘s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.

You can watch these videos to find out more information:

http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day/videos/history-of-st-patricks-day?m=528e38969e64d

http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day/videos/bet-you-didnt-know-st-patricks-day

Use this link to find out about how St Patrick’s Day is celebrated:

http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day/interactives/st-patricks-day-by-the-numbers

Nelson Mandela : one of the most inspiring figures of the 20th century

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Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

 Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on 18 July 1918 and was given the name of Nelson by one of his teachers. His father Henry was a respected advisor to the Thembu royal family.

ANC involvement

Mandela was educated at the University of Fort Hare and later at the University of Witwatersrand, he qualified in law in 1942. He became increasingly involved with the African National Congress (ANC), a multi-racial nationalist movement trying to bring about political change in South Africa.

In 1948, the National Party came to power and began to implement a policy of ‘apartheid’, or forced segregation on the basis of race. The ANC carried out a campaign of passive resistance against apartheid laws.

In 1952, Mandela became one of the ANC’s deputy presidents. By the late 1950s, faced with increasing government discrimination, Mandela, his friend Oliver Tambo and others began to move the ANC in a more radical direction. In 1956, Mandela went on trial for treason. The court case lasted five years, and finally Mandela was acquitted.

In March 1960, 69 black anti-apartheid demonstrators were killed by police at Sharpeville. The government declared a state of emergency and banned the ANC. In response, the organisation abandoned its policy of non-violence and Mandela helped establish the ANC’s military wing ‘Umkhonto we Sizwe’ or ‘The Spear of the Nation’. He was appointed its commander-in-chief and travelled abroad to receive military training and to find support for the ANC. On his return he was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1963, Mandela and other ANC leaders were tried for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. The following year Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was held in Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, and later in Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland. During his years in prison he became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid.

In 1990, the South African government responded to internal and international pressure and released Mandela, at the same time lifting the ban against the ANC. In 1991 Mandela became the ANC’s leader.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with FW de Klerk, then president of South Africa, in 1993. The following year South Africa held its first multi-racial election and Mandela was elected its first black president.

In 1998, he was married for the third time to Graça Machel, the widow of the president of Mozambique. Mandela’s second wife, Winnie, whom he married in 1958 and divorced in 1996, remains a controversial anti-apartheid activist.

In 1997 he stepped down as ANC leader and in 1999 his presidency of South Africa came to an end.

In 2004, Mandela announced his retirement from public life, although his charitable work continued. On 29 August 2007, a permanent statue to him was unveiled in Parliament Square, London.

He died on 5 December 2013, aged 95.

To learn more about Nelson Mandela’s life you can visit these pages:

– Watch the video on the BBC Website: Obituary

– Watch the video on the Guardian newspaper website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/nelson-mandela/8286419/Nelson-Mandela-obituary-part-one-one-of-the-most-inspiring-figures-of-the-20th-century.html

– Learn about the timeline of Mandela’s life with videos : BBC News

– Learn some of Mandela’s popular quotes

– Watch the video on the History channel

– How would Mandela have used social media if it has existed? Watch the Video here – thank you to http://www.teachermanigat.com/ for the link!

To learn more about apartheid:

– You can visit the excellent Apartheid museum website

To improve your listening comprehension :

– Online exercises here

To improve your reading comprehension:

– Learn all about Mandela and apartheid here

Tips for your oral presentation!

Do you consider Nelson Mandela to be a modern-day hero? What has he achieved for black South Africans? How has their life become better today? Does this make him a hero?This topic can not only illustrate the notion of myths and heroes but also the idea of progress: after racial segregation during colonial times in South Africa, the struggle that led to the abolition of apartheid has brought about a great number of changes for the black population.Finally this topic could be the perfect illustration for the notion of places and forms of power:

Apartheid caused significant internal resistance and violence, and a long arms and trade embargo against South Africa. There were many uprisings and protests leading to  the imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more effective and militarised, state organisations responded with repression and violence. Along with the sanctions placed on South Africa by the international community, this made it increasingly difficult for the government to maintain the regime. Apartheid reforms in the 1980s failed to stop the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid. There were multi-racial democratic elections in 1994 that were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela.

Comment définir les quatre notions?

La définition des 4 notions

1. Myths and heroes:

A myth can be defined as a story about gods or heroes, it can be a popular belief or a tradition or a false notion. A hero can be a mythological figure, a person who is admired for his or her achievements, a superhero or maybe a role model or an icon.

 Examples can be:

– a patriotic or national hero (sportsman, politician, human rights defender…..)

– a fictitious hero (superhero or film star)

– an icon or role model (fashion, tv, music)

– a defender of common values

– a politician/king/queen who has achieved international recognition

2.  Locations and forms of power: (also called Places and forms of power or Seats and forms of power)

In politics and social science, power is the ability to influence the behavior of people. In order to live together members of a community accept rules, regulations, laws. This helps to create social cohesion but can also lead to conflicts and tensions. Even when authority seems absolute, there are always counter-powers which question it, aim at limiting its excesses and resist it.

 Examples can be:

– the power of the media (reality tv, internet v written press)

– Financial power (the power of money)

– Inequalities between blacks and whites – the fight against oppression and segregation (South Africa, USA)

– The American Dream

– The Civil Rights movement and political recognition : Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X (can also be linked to the notion of Myths and Heroes)

3. The idea of Progress

The idea of progress can be defined as an improvement, a development or a change – a technical, scientific or social advance which contributes to making the world a better place.

 Examples can be:

– Scientific Progress – Medical advances, cures for illnesses, cloning, performance enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms.

– Technological Progress-  technologies to slow down climate change such as hybrid cars, wind turbines, solar panels, biofuel…..

advances in communication:  the internet, social media, mobile phones, video games – how      they have changed our lives and the dangers of these modern ways of communication

Robots, automated production

Nuclear Power – for and against

–  Social Progress: changes in the quality of life – how does progress affect our society?

Education, employment, equality, family life

Women’s rights, human rights, minority rights ……

The idea of liberty, freedom, democracy

 4. Spaces and Exchanges

This notion deals with the geographical and symbolic areas that all societies occupy and the interactions between men and different societies. Our world is built on the exploration and conquest of new spaces. The different cultural, economic, sociological and language interactions have shaped and characterised our modern-day world.

 Examples can be:

– Trade (the basis of all societies)

– Working conditions (telecommuting, internet)

– Globalization (the world has become a small village)

– School and education (social diversity / knowledge)  comparison of the different educational systems

– The Internet / social networks…

– the movement of people: Immigration

– movement across borders (Gap Year)

Pour plus d’informations vous pouvez consulter les pages suivantes:

http://missions.editions-bordas.fr/enseignant/webfm_send/108

The story behind Halloween – Myths and Legends

 

 

 

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Halloween is celebrated every year on the 31st October, but do you know the origin of this celebration?

Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of « Samhain », when people used to light bonfires and wear costumes to scare away ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as « All Hallows’ Eve » and this later became known as « Halloween ».

Over the years, Halloween has evolved into a fun and family event with activities  for children such as trick-or-treating, when children dress as monsters, ghosts and witches and knock on neighbours’ doors to ask for sweets and candy.

The story of Halloween can be used to illustrate the notion of myths and heroes (the different myths and legends surrounding the Halloween celebration) but also the notion of Spaces and Exchanges: Halloween started in America when immigrants came from Ireland (potato famine) and Scotland, bringing their customs and traditions to the United States. They were proud of their Celtic origins and they called Halloween « Oidche Shamhna » (Night of Samhain) and kept the traditional observances. The Jack-o-lantern is the festival light for Halloween and is the ancient symbol of a damned soul. Originally the Irish would carve out turnips as but when they emigrated to America they could not find many turnips. They found however an abundance of pumpkins and they have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations ever since. « Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

Here are a few links to help you learn about this day:

The history of Halloween explained – link to a video with transcript and vocabulary explanations

The real story behind Halloween – link to a video on the History channel

Monster Quest – Are ghosts real? This is a 46-minute video about an investigation into the most haunted houses in America (don’t watch it alone!!)

– Read about the history of Halloween here and some Halloween superstitions here

– A reading comprehension about the history of Halloween with questions to check your understanding

– Myths and legends about Halloween

Homeless Boston man hailed as a hero

A homeless man who returned a backpack containing $40,000 in cash and travelers checks has been rewarded by well-wishers who have donated more than $75,000 to help him.

Former Boston courthouse employee Glen James had lost his job because of health problems, but said he would not have tried to keep any of the money he found at the weekend.

After hearing about his story a Virginia man set up a GoFundMe website which has raised thousands to help Mr James in just one day

You can read more about the story here: New York Daily News

What would you do if you found $40,000 in the street? Would you keep it or would you hand it in to the police?

Do you consider this man to be a modern-day hero?

Myths and heroes (3)

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Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster                                        Stonehenge

 

What exactly is a myth?

A myth is a story that may or may not be true. There are often no records or proof that the myth happened. Some myths have factual origins, while others are completely fictional. However myths are more than simple stories – many serve a more profound purpose in ancient and modern cultures. Mythology is a collection of traditional stories that express the beliefs or values of a group of people. The stories often focus on human qualities such as good and evil.

They are often considered to be sacred and may explain how things came to be. The myths gave human emotions and qualities to the super-natural beings who were the heroes of their stories.

A myth can also be a story that tries to explain the way the world is. People have always wanted to know the reasons for natural phenomena, for example how was the Universe created, what is the reason for thunder……. Myths often include gods and goddesses and other supernatural characters who have the power to make extraordinary things happen and are popular even when people know the actual reasons for the natural phenomena. Religion, gods, and myths were created when people tried to have an answer to these questions.

You can read about some famous myths here: Famous Myths

You can read about some famous British myths and legends here: Top ten British myths and legends

 

Have fun learning history!

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Have you always found history boring? Do you find it difficult to learn your dates?

1. Here’s a fun way to learn about historical events on Historyteachers channel on You Tube :  http://www.youtube.com/user/historyteachers?feature=watch

You’ll never forget your dates again!

You can learn about

Henry VIII

William the Conqueror

Mary Queen of Scots

2. Another excellent video is Bad Romance: Women’s Suffrage – a parody music video paying homage to Alice Paul and the generations of brave women who joined together in the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920. (Could be used to illustrate the notion Myths and Heroes)

3. An excellent BBC video telling the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot (I wish this kind of programme had existed when I was learning history!)