Memorial de Caen: Educating school groups about World War II
Published: March 29th 2014
Grief broke me, brotherhood raised me up, from my wound has sprung a river of liberty.
Liberty. A word used more frequently in times of political crisis or global inequality, but also a word we should reflect on more often. The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions is something we can easily take for granted, and while we immerse ourselves in the issue of the day, lest we forget the sacrifice made with so much owed by so many to so few.
A message from the past
From the moment students step off the coach, the Memorial de Caen provides a strong message – a lesson learnt by many – on the outcome of war and the futile attempts of one man to cut the freedom of others. The twisted barrel of a gun stands as a strong image which can conjure many emotions. Combined with the simple design of the building with united flags adorning the path up to the museum, the site of the Memorial de Caen immediately highlights to learners that there is no need to dress up the enormity of the events of World War II and the Battle for Caen.
Inside, the Memorial de Caen looks to provide a user experience that enables all students to access the learning and for Party Leaders to feel at ease. From the open layout of the museum’s foyer where groups can gather to the 15 minute introductory presentation welcoming groups to Memorial de Caen, the museum team have thought about what a Party Leader would want and expect when visiting. While educators continue to use the principles of VAK (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) within the classroom there is a commonality between these learning styles that enhance our experience and our ability to absorb information – passion. This is passion for the subject and the enthusiasm which comes from this sharing of knowledge. Equipped with microphones and audio headsets for the students, guides at Memorial de Caen deliver this passion to generate an interest amongst the students. Keen for students to learn and to understand the events of this pivotal point in history, groups are provided with an insight into the battle either side of the front line.
War of words
The extensive variety of museum exhibits look to cover numerous aspects of the war. From the heart-wrenching scenes depicting the persecution of the Jewish community to images of the liberation by Allied troops, Memorial de Caen provides a stimulating selection of learning material. While it is hoped everyone will find something of personal interest, all information provided is designed to be easily accessible in order for every student to have a fulfilling educational tour. The range of artefacts on offer range from the war of words found on the propaganda posters to the striped pyjamas you only expect to see in a studio film. The experience is truly made to feel as real as the artefacts that stand before you and the gravity of this war.