War, Peace and Education- ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’? exploring conflict and resolution through archives

My first foray into the plethora of events surrounding the Centenary of the First World War was the Study Day held by the Friends of the Newsam Library & Archives on Tuesday 25th March 2014. Here are a few personal impressions of the event.

The Archivist, Sarah Aitchison, launched the event by commenting that the catalogue contained more entries under PEACE than under WAR and that the collections in the archives reflected the work done to prevent conflict or to deal in a positive fashion with its aftermath.

 The IOE and Equity will be running the tours to the European First World War Battlefields as proposed by David Cameron. Professor Stuart Foster gave an interesting talk about the pilot tours. I gained a much clearer picture about the extent to which the whole Year and the schools themselves would benefit even if only two pupils and a teacher went on each tour. www.centenarybattlefieldtours.org/

Dr Barry Blades’ talk about Teachers and the Great War, 1914-1919 concentrated on the lives of several individuals to personalise his subject. They were teachers who did not teach at Public Schools. Most of the teachers had not been to Public Schools or Universities where they might have been members of an OCT (OTC –Officer Training Corps). As a consequence they were not selected for Officer Training. Later on, as the war progressed, there was a shortage of Officers and such men were promoted and as all Officers were ‘Gentlemen’ they became ‘Temporary ‘Gentlemen.  Schools had to recruit women teachers and recall teachers from retirement which could have both positive and negative effects on their pupils

Walter Lewis in his talk ‘Educating Service Children in the 20th Century’ described his experiences teaching in Hong Kong and Germany. His school in Hong Kong was under the flight path of the airport and he became used to speaking with regular pauses whilst jets took-off or landed. He talked about how his pupils coped very well with regular moves and having parents deployed to active war zones- sometimes better than the staff did themselves.

Alix Hall from the Archives talked about her work in a talk entitled Thinking Outside the Box: Using Archives to Teach Perspectives on Wartime. This is a programme which Alix delivers to local schools and so provides pupils with the chance to view and work with real archival material.

 The opportunity to talk informally with the Speakers at the end of the day added to my overall enjoyment of the event. I am looking forward to more events like this. Do look out for any posters or flyers for further information about when and where these will take place.

The IOE is hosting ISCHE 36 (International Standing Conference for the History of Education) Education, War and Peace, July 23-26 2014. (http://www.ische2014.org ).

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