Learning lessons from war? Inclusions and exclusions in teaching First World War history in English secondary schools
History and Memory: studies in representation of the past
Indiana University Press
Reason for embargo
The recent centenary anniversaries of the First World War have underscored how commemoration of the war is best understood as being about keeping the memory alive, especially since those who experienced it first-hand have all but disappeared. Consequently, the role of youth as vessels of memory is central. This article explores how secondary school pupils in England are integrated into centenary practices of remembrance with a particular focus on education. It will first establish the way that young people are both surrounded by and central to the commemoration of the First World War in 2014 and the role played by education in transmitting certain memories, ideas, and values to the next generation. It will then highlight which narratives of the war are included in and excluded from secondary-level classroom history teaching via a close examination of teaching content, method and purpose. In conclusion, this article will raise important concerns relating to the ‘memory messages’ that are being communicated via history teaching of the First World War and the consequences of such narratives regarding the replication of power relations, a continued inability to deal with Britain’s colonial legacy, and an uncritical normalizing of the military in the minds of young people.
Vol. 28, pp. 36 - 71