John Simkin

John Simkin

John Simkin (born 25 June 1945 in London) is an English history teacher, and is the founder and author of Spartacus Educational, a historical encyclopedia mainly focused on Britain and the U.S. [ [ Colorado Community Colleges Online] " [ References] " ]

Early life

John failed his 11+ and after leaving school at 15 he worked in the print trade. As soon as he completed his apprenticeship he left the industry and in 1966 he was employed by a major brewery to manage an off-licence. While working full-time he took his first degree at the Open University (1970-77). This was followed by a PGCE at Sussex University (1977-78). He began work as a teacher of history and sociology at Heathfield Comprehensive in September, 1978. At the same time he carried out research into the role that schooling plays in the development of political consciousness. This resulted in the award of an MPhil from Sussex in 1982.

Educational publishing

Dissatisfied with the quality of teaching materials being produced by commercial publishers, Simkin joined forces with a group of academics from Sussex University and classroom teachers in the Brighton area, to establish Tressell Publications in 1980. Simkin’s early books concentrated on developing history skills in students. Tressell also pioneered the development of using computer programs in the history classroom. For example, "Into the Unknown", "Attack on the Somme" and "Wagon’s West". In 1984 he co-edited with David Simkin, the book, "Curriculum Development in Action".

In 1984 Simkin established Spartacus Education. Over the next 13 years the company published books and computer software for teachers of History, Geography, Mathematics and English. Books written by Simkin include "Gandhi" (1987), "The Vietnam War" (1988), "Race Relations in the United States" (1988), "Slavery: An Illustrated History of Black Resistance" (1988), "Hitler" (1988), "Stalin" (1987), "The Roman Empire" (1991), "Making of the United Kingdom" (1992), "Expansion, Trade and Industry" (1992), "The Medieval Village" (1996) and "The Norman Invasion" (1996).#

Online publishing

In September 1997 Spartacus abandoned book publishing and became one of the first companies to provide free online teaching materials. The [ website] is a collection of history encyclopaedias. Titles include "British History: 1750-1960", "United States: 1840-1980", "First World War", "Second World War", "Russia: 1860-1945", "The Cold War", "Watergate", "Spies and Spymasters", "Assassination of JFK", "Spanish Civil War", "Medieval World", "Tudors & Stuarts", "Germany: 1900-1945" and "France: 1900-1945". Entries usually include a narrative, illustrations and primary sources. The text within each entry is hyperlinked internally, to other relevant pages in the encyclopaedia. The sources are also hyper-linked, for the writer, artist, newspaper or organization that produced the source material.


Simkin's major area of research concerns the struggle for democracy and the resistance that has taken place under military dictatorships. He is particularly interested in the role intelligence services have played in undermining democracy in the developed world and the supporting of military dictatorships in underdeveloped countries.

Over the last ten years Simkin has also worked as an educational adviser and online content provider for The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, Historical Association, European Commission, DfES, Becta, etc.

International Education Forum

In 2003 Simkin joined Andy Walker in establishing the [ International Education Forum] . Initially it was set up to enable teachers from all over the world to post information, ask and answer questions, and to take part in debates about education. The forum also helps teachers to find partners for subject specific and cross-curricular curriculum projects. It later became a place where historians could discuss their research with other like-minded individuals. The Forum also provides a platform for authors who are willing to discuss their books with their readers.

European History E-Learning Project

John Simkin is also a member of the European History E-Learning Project (E-Help), [John Simkin and Heather McLean " [,10577,1642286,00.html Handshakes with the past] ", The Guardian November 15, 2005.] which aims to encourage and improve use of ICT and the internet in classrooms across the continent. The E-Help team includes historians from France, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. Over the next three years they will be researching, evaluating and presenting evidence of good practice in ICT and the internet in history teaching. The information will be available on E-Help's website and forum, due to be launched by the end of 2006.


External links

* [ Spartacus Educational website]
* [ John Simkin]
* [ Interview with John Simkin - July 19, 2008]

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