Saturday, 10 November 2012

Remembering what not to forget...

Today is Remembrance Day. The 11th day of the 11th month is set aside to commemorate the end of World War I and also to remember those who died and suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.
As a teacher, I have an important role in helping my young students to develop an understanding of what we are pausing to remember.
We pause to remember the young lives that were wasted, the families who suffered and the enormous cost of war to both sides. War is nothing but a tragedy. There are no winners in a war.

I have worked all year on the way that my students talk about war and its real effects on our society. 
At the beginning of the year my boys particularly would roll on the floor with their pretend machine guns made from their hands. 
They would cheer at the sight of soldiers and guns in images they saw. They would see war as a game from which you can easily walk away (an idea they get from exposure to video games and movies) or they would see it as something far away that happens in countries where the people are bad and "coming to get us". Luckily for these students, they have not been affected by war in a way that they understand what it really means.
Through our history studies and most recently the contact with their grandparents, the students now speak about war as a time of great sadness, of difficulty for the troops and the families left behind and the ongoing cost to a society that lost so many of its strong young people and who were filled with grief and sadness even if their loved ones returned. 
The children know that their grandparents were affected by the war even if they were born after the war or were too young to go to war. This message came through strongly in their letters. 
They know that WWI was called "the Great War" not because it was fantastic but because it was so big and affected so many people. They know that their predecessors called it "the war to end all wars" and that they had truly and deep down hoped it would be - even if reality seemed to far away from this dream. 
My students have considered a future without war and have discussed how they can learn to work together. Through our quadblogging experience they have looked for similarities in people who look different from them on the surface. We do this so that they might be the generation who finds a better way to solve problems.
I share a message of peace - a message about a future full of hope for all humanity.
These students are our future and we owe it to those who did give their lives to make sure this generation does not repeat the mistakes of history. 
I'll do my bit and hope it works. 
Lest we forget.

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