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World War artifacts in the classroom

Last Remembrance Day I organized an event for my students dedicated to learning what it was like for people to live through World War 1 & World War 2. It was an incredible success with my students, many of whom had only heard of both world wars in passing and had no idea of the background, significance, timeline, etc. for either conflict. The organization of this event was precedented by my participation in the 2014 Canadian Battlefields Foundation tour in France. For two weeks, myself and several other university students travelled through northern France learning about Canadians in WW1 & WW2. This experience highlighted to me the true importance of remembrance, which I am working very hard to pass on to my students.

When I learned about the Canadian War Museum’s Supply Line WW1 discovery kit program, I immediately sent in a request to have one sent to Nova. The students at our adult ed centre range in age from 16 to 50+. As with all students, our students come from all walks of life (cultural backgrounds, economic backgrounds, etc). What is different about these students, however, is that the regular education system failed to meet their learning needs, unusual life circumstances prevented them from finishing their high school education, or they are new immigrants to Canada who are attempting to get their diplomas and get good jobs to support their families. As a history teacher, I often hear my students complaining that this course is boring and difficult, not to mention irrelevant to their future goals. While this may be true (except for the part about history being boring!), I strongly believe that the course content still holds lots of potential to inspire critical thinking and discussion in my classroom. I have numerous reproductions of primarily paper documents from WW1 & WW2, but I really wanted to show my students some actual objects from the time of WW1 to wet their appetite for historical learning even more prior to our trip to Ottawa to visit the War Museum in May.

Emilie Bowles (NOVA Career Centre teacher)