Harry Patch, 'the last fighting Tommy', remains an inspiration for a much younger generation in our schools. You might think primary school children might not empathise or understand remembrance day as deeply and as thoughtfully as adults but that is perhaps before you come to work with them and spend time with them. They are able to learn about Armistice day, they should learn about it. Sometimes I feel we underestimate our primary school children, we play down difficult topics or avoid them altogether. If they're big maybe we won't have enough time to explore because we have to do other things at a rushed pace with surface level understanding-missing deep and meaningful learning each time. However it would be wrong, when we sell poppies in primary schools, not to talk about why. As Loris Malaguzzi states 'our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all, connected to adults and other children'. They are able to discuss, to find out, to have an opinion and develop their own understanding of history and our world:
"When the war ended, I don't know if I was more relieved that we'd won or that I didn't have to go back. Passchendaele was a disastrous battle – thousands and thousands of young lives were lost. It makes me angry. Earlier this year, I went back to Ypres to shake the hand of Charles Kuentz, Germany's only surviving veteran from the war. It was emotional. He is 107. We've had 87 years to think what war is. To me, it's a licence to go out and murder. Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language I couldn't speak? All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that?"Harry Patch
Indeed it is people like Harry Patch and all his comrades who deserve to be remembered.
If we don't do that for our children who will carry on remembering and tell of our history? Who will be able to remember, to remind: 'For your tomorrow, we gave our today'?
I'm sure many teachers/adults have had the privilege of reading amazing, inspirational writing from children. I remember a mum at a parents' evening telling me about her daughter reading aloud what she thought was a poem for a poetry book because she was in another room at the time. It was a poem that the Yr 6 child had written for a Remembrance assembly. Continually amazed by young writers, always inspired by the strength of thought and empathy in their writing when they're given a chance and the time to be creative.
'THE MOON WAS SHINING OVER HER CHILDREN'