Friday, 29 April 2016

How did your learners learn about Anzac?

Anzac came and went in the last week.  A time for reflection on our history.
It did get me thinking again about curricula in our schools in the context of the last week.  Schools need to examine very clearly what they want their learners to learn and above all why they want them to learn it.   Only then should they focus on how they should learn.
Anzac is a big "topic" in schools in the last weeks of the school term.  Why learn about Anzac?  What do they need to learn about Anzac and then how are they going to learn about Anzac?
Some answers to these questions may centre around the following.

Anzac is an important part of the culture of New Zealand. It represents a struggle of grit and determination against the odds which many of us should identify with. It links our past to our future - what will we do in the future based on what we did in the past?
Our forebears went through hell for what they thought was the right thing to do.
They were so young.  There was so much suffering on all sides.
Poppies represent the blood lost by so many on foreign soil.
So many losses of our people in the field, fighting for a cause which may or may not have been remotely relevant for them.
The paradox of war - strength determining an outcome that may or may not be morally right, and the fraternisation of soldiers on opposite sides.
Many of our grandfathers and grandmothers and great uncles and aunts were involved in the Anzac battle, either directly or indirectly.  These were the people who suffered so much for what they believed was the right thing to do.
No doubt you will have other learning intentions associated with Anzac but now focus on how your learners were able to take on board some learning around Anzac.  How did your younger children learn about some of the concepts associated with Anzac compared to your older children?  Did they draw pretty pictures of poppies?  What did they learn from that? Did they erect white crosses on the school lawn.  Did they fill in a worksheet about Anzac? Did they listen to an Anzac service or the mournful "Last Post" played on a bugle?  Is there a knowledge building from year to year?
Do you think that they learned any part of the "What?" listed above.  How could you have enlisted their creativity to enable them to really take on the learning? What did your students learn about Anzac and how do you know they learned it?  What is the visible evidence of their learning and how was it relevant to them?  And what are your learners going to learn about Anzac next year?


  1. We shared stories of whanau who went to war. One girl,from Sth Africa brought in her great grandfather's photos and postcards from Egypt where he spent time as a POW. Others had excerpts from letters..including me. We used a time line and world map to trace the jouneys and give scale to the stories we read. Thank you the Journals. We read excerpts from Ken Catrans Letters from the Coffin Trenches and learnt about 3 level reading in the process. We listened to Radio NZ podcasts- interviews with NZERS and Turks, read Ataturk's famous message and talked about why people will fight for homeland and whanau, the respect shown between enemy soldiers and why it's still so powerful in the world. We are going to watch War Horse and blog a personal response... And some of my students were at Anzac services in uniforms. Two of my students have a Dad currently on active service overseas....and my Samoan student learnt something about his country's history he didn't know.

    1. Thanks, Marg, sounds like an awesome way to learn! How did your students like it? And perhaps even more importantly, did they know why they were learning about it?