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.

Memorial de Caen

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.

Memorial de Caen

An interactive learning experience

The accessible content found within the many exhibits groups are introduced to on their tour is further enhanced by the study packs on offer. With books designed for both primary and secondary schools, the study packs offer a chance for students to work at their own pace as they walk around the museum. With additional workshops available which explore ‘daily life’ and ‘the resistance’, students are able to investigate and question the artefacts and documents they handle. The workshop classroom also has the benefit of an interactive whiteboard where the groups can further interact with the educator and peers through discussion. These 1 hour 15 minute sessions are a great way for the students to put the Memorial de Caen into perspective and reflect on the emotive exhibitions on show. 
Many lessons can be learnt from a visit to the Memorial de Caen with the ultimate message of reconciliation and a fight for liberty that we all should cherish. Here at Travelbound we are pleased to be able to offer a special combined ticket for the Memorial de Caen and Arromanches 360. Tying together the events of the Battle of Normandy, Arromanches 360 projects specially compiled footage onto 9 screens to give students a unique cinematic experience and an insight into the battle for the liberation of Europe. Look back on your educational tour to Normandy and use this experience to place the events of World War II into the wider scope of how we are able to live today.
Check out the video below in full screen to find out more about the experience of visiting Memorial de Caen.
If you would like to find out more about a school trip to Normandy or would like to enquire into running your next educational tour with Travelbound, get in touch here or call us on 01273 265265.