Maggie Andrews, Professor of Cultural History at the University of Worcester, invited me to speak at a symposium that she was organising, entitled ‘Children in WW1: Histories and engagements’, during the afternoon of Monday 8th May 2017. The remit was to deliver a presentation, of approximately 20 minutes in length and aimed at undergraduate and post-graduate students, about our recent WW1 project, how we engaged youngsters, the impact that it had and what we discovered about children during the time of the First World War. I was told to be prepared to answer any questions that the audience may have too.
Well, considering the time that I had to talk and all that we achieved throughout the timescale of our project, I had to be incredibly selective as to what material I showcased. I decided to focus on our WW1-themed week’s activities and related events and then ‘zoom in’ on our jam-packed, cross-curricular day. I included a viewing of our photo story as well since I think this really does ‘say it all’. I felt rather emotional watching this again a year or so down the line. It really brought home how much we had done and the positive impact that it had on our local community. Several in the audience stated that they would have liked to have been part of such a successful initiative too.
My input was followed by a presentation from Julia Letts, an experienced, freelance oral and community historian. She shared creative ways to teach children about WW1, exhibiting some of her latest work with schools within Worcestershire. These ranged from an hour’s lesson, providing a ‘hook’ for future teaching and learning about WW1, to a themed day, cross-curricular fortnight and a HLF project involving collaboration between four, local schools. Whilst our projects displayed some similarities, I certainly picked up a few fresh ideas and new approaches to explore with those schools that I have regular contact with.
Comments and questions were very forthcoming from the floor, so a shorter than planned coffee break took place. I did have another opportunity to speak with Paul Sutton and Max Allsup from c&t (http://www.candt.org/), however. I am hoping to meet with them next week to see if we can work together with schools straddling both counties. I am keen to discover more about their immense creativity and the global dimension to their work, especially after all the Global Learning Programme (GLP) activities that I have been involved with over the past four years.
Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly afterwards due to prior school commitments. Nevertheless, I am led to believe that the remainder of the afternoon was just as interesting and inspiring. Rebecca Ball, a post-graduate student from the University of Wolverhampton, talked about the experience of working class children in WW1. Afterwards, consideration was given to Worcestershire children in WW1, focusing on themes, questions and histories. Finally, Maggie Andrews discussed and explored future plans, including the ‘patriotism or/and pragmatism project’.
I look forward to attending/contributing to the next event … I always return home with greater knowledge and understanding of this period of history and feel truly inspired to share this with others.