The First World War in the Classroom

Teaching and the Construction of Cultural Memory

This exploratory research project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 'Care for the Future' Exploratory Award. It seeks to gain greater understanding of the link between education and the way in which the First World War is perceived and commemorated at the point of its centenary anniversary. The project is about examining how the war is taught and remembered in the present, to allow us to consider its future relevance to national consciousness and cultural memory as an event that can bridge the generational divide through its abiding interest. More specifically, our objectives are:

  • To explore the ways in which the First World War, as a topic relevant to both History and English Literature, is taught in English secondary schools in both subject areas, particularly to from Years 9-12.
  • To understand the ways in which the teaching of the First World War contributes to the formation of a specific cultural memory of the war and a literary canon that emphasises a select group of poet 'truth speakers' above all other witness testimony of the war.
  • To consult with teachers, academics and educational policy-makers via a symposium, questionnaires and focus-groups to ensure we fully understand what is already happening in secondary school classrooms. This involves exploring how teachers and academics feel about teaching the subject and what their experiences have been.
  • To create a dialogue between schools, universities and professional organisations.
  • To develop lasting outputs, such as an interactive website, which encourage continued dialogue between secondary and university level teachers.
  • To conduct a survey, the findings of which can be compiled into a comprehensive report into 'Teaching About the First World War'.
  • To be in a position to start making recommendations to national level curriculum setters and exam boards about the way the subject is taught and the content coverage in History and English Literature.

Images courtesy of Kevin Murphy Photography

Funded by

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