Planning a battlefield tour for your school?
Here are some practical suggestions
Set the tone of the trip before you go, as well as the curriculum aims and objectives
Watch ‘Some Go Early’ with your students, freely available from the CWGC (request form on the website) While it is about a soldier in the Second World War, it illustrates vividly and movingly the ongoing effect of his death on his friends and family, and the importance to them of visiting the place where he is buried.
Invite veterans in to school to talk, not just about their war experiences, but about what remembrance and visiting cemeteries means to them.
Work with your students to produce a Code of Conduct before you go:
Consider taking a veteran with you on the trip.
Look at the ‘cemetery vandalism’ exercise on ‘Remember Me’ – a slightly different slant, but relevant to the idea of respect. http://www.cwgc.org/education/who_cares.htm
Don’t try to cram too much in
If you’re only there for a day, it’s tempting to try to ‘get your money’s worth’ but that condition ‘cemetery blur’ is all too true. After a while, one cemetery looks very like another and the initial impact is lost. Why not just visit one large cemetery, like Tyne Cot, and then a small, out of the way one? Each of these has its own special quality.
Allow time for letting off steam
Long coach journeys, museums, cemeteries – none of them ideal places to burn off pent up energy, which is why it sometimes happens as students arrive in the comparative freedom and fresh air of a cemetery.
Think about including a physical activity into the day. It could still be relevant, like a re-creation of the Christmas Truce football game (somewhere away from a cemetery!