The War in 1914

by I.A. Isherwood

I wrote this a year ago after a dud of a lecture. It was on the conduct of the war in 1914. I wasn’t at my best, the students were ill prepared, and the class was hard going. All teachers have been there.

Yesterday, it kinda happened again. And it was the same material. The students were dutifully taking notes, yet half my questions lingered off into the ether (never to be found again). Halfway through I asked, “Is this working? Me standing here and pointing at things?” After a little laughter, the general consensus was that it wasn’t.

This has demonstrated to me two things: 1) I need to actually read my own blog; 2) that I need to find a different way to either a) teach the war in 1914 or b) new methods of teaching traditional military history to liberal arts students. I came upon point 2b in class itself as I was muttering something about Tannenberg. Anyway, food for thought for the rest of the semester as we move forward.

Great War Writing

Today we examined the war in the west in 1914. Initially, I hoped to get through 1915 too, but my long-windedness got the better of me, so we’ll have to wait until Wednesday to do so.

I started the class by defining some terms on the power-point so that we had a frame of reference for certain things. This is a 200 (intermediate) level class. Though there are some military history buffs in the class, not everyone is born knowing the difference between a division and a corps, so I went over some military definitions and what they meant during the First World War. Then we briefly touched upon Sir Hew Strachan’s excellent essay on command and strategy in John Horne’s companion. I tried to relate this essay by defining how the First World War fell in-between two models of strategic thought: the nineteenth century conception of strategy defined…

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