Teaching our future about our past
As a proud Australian and a Mum of 3 children teaching my kids about our history is something very close to my heart. I value the sacrifice of our fallen and I hope one day my children also feel gratitude towards the many men and women who fought and died during the war. I believe learning about ANZAC Day helps young children to understand the life and times of Australia and its people. By increasing young children’s understandings about the traditions and facts of ANZAC Day, the many real life stories of sacrifices and heroism of everyday Australians will not be lost, but in fact handed down to future generations.
But how do you get children interested in a subject they don’t understand. I found this a huge challenge with my son as he couldn’t understand why these young men and women had to go to war, why they “didn’t come back to life” (to explain my son loves action movie’s and games and has the notion you can simply restart your life or you miraculously recover from near death), he also didn’t understand why we “remember such sad times” and his solution was to ” just forget about it” if it was a sad thing (which shocked me at first however what my son is sad or something is upsetting him I tell him to forget about it and think about happy things so a reasonable response I guess) so I tried to make it less of a “sad” thing and tried to focus on the “hero” side of things.
I discovered my son has a fascination with the past and the talk of ANZAC Day has opened up a lot of questions for him. Why was there war, will we have war again, why can’t everyone be happy, why do people want to hurt us, what happened to the people who died and where did they go, how did they talk to their families without email or video call, in the “old days” why was the tv black and white when we see in colours, how did they make electricity, what did the kids play without a Nintendo DS, why did they eat damper, Why are the biscuits names ANZAC and why does everyone love them and even questions like how did I kill the dinosaurs (wow, I’m only 27!) and why is the sky blue.
I decided to try out some school type activities for them over the last few days and its really been helping him make sense of it. He is starting to understand why we have a “day off” to remember them and why its important to be thankful for their heroism. It’s been difficult to get him to understand compassion and gratitude for people he never met and will never meet (especially with his learning difficulties) however I think in the future he will learn to appreciate our past by the knowledge we have given him.
How will you be passing on your knowledge of our past to your children? Do you believe they should learn at home or is this a topic to learn in school or both? Do you have any ANZAC traditions like the Dawn Service or the march?
Thought I’d also share this little poem. It really touched my heart and I couldn’t possibly begin to imagine loosing a loved one in war let alone a parent when your a young child.
Lest we forget
By: D. Hunter
(A veteran of Shaggy Ridge with the 2/12 Battalion in WW2)
I saw a kid marchin’ with medals on his chest.
He marched alongside Diggers marching six abreast.
He knew that it was ANZAC Day – he walked along with pride.
He did his best to keep in step with the Diggers by his side.
And when the march was over the kid was rather tired.
A Digger said “Whose medals, son?” to which the kid replied:
“They belong to daddy, but he did not come back.
He died up in New Guinea on a lonely jungle track”.
The kid looked rather sad then and a tear came to his eye.
The Digger said “Don’t cry my son and I will tell you why.
Your daddy marched with us today – all the blooming way.
We Diggers know that he was there – it’s like that on ANZAC Day”.
The kid looked rather puzzled and didn’t understand,
But the Digger went on talking and started to wave his hand.
“For this great land we live in, there’s a price we have to pay
For we all love fun and merriment in this country where we live.
The price was that some soldier his precious life must give.
For you to go to school my lad and worship God at will,
Someone had to pay the price so the Diggers paid the bill.
Your daddy died for us my son – for all things good and true.
I wonder if you understand the things I’ve said to you”.
The kid looked up at the Digger – just for a little while
And with a changed expression, said, with a lovely smile:
“I know my dad marched here today – this is ANZAC Day.
I know he did. I know he did, all the bloomin’ way”. ♥ RIP