What are commemorations?

  • Upper Key Stage 2/ PDMU/World Around Us
  • Key Stage 3: Citizenship/History

Setting the scene

Research evidence from Northern Ireland has revealed that children as young as 4 and 5 show preference for symbols of ‘their’ community (Connolly et al 2002). Children, therefore, may have already formed deeply held views and attitudes about remembrance, influenced by a combination of their family backgrounds; their communities; images and flags in their neighbourhoods; and from television and other sources.

For this reason two preliminary lessons (The Identity Chart and the Bio Poem) have been provided to encourage children to explore their own values and attitudes before beginning the lessons below.

The purpose of these four lessons is to develop pupils’ awareness of the meaning of commemorations and to develop their ability to work with and to judge the usefulness and reliability of some primary sources of evidence to evidence related to the Ulster Covenant in 1912.

  • Lesson 1 aims to clarify what commemorations are.
  • Lesson 2 asks children to explore some aspects of public commemoration, the reasons why they occur and how they relate to the issue of national identity.
  • Lesson 3 asks children to ‘work as a historian’ scrutinising some primary sources for reliability of historical evidence.
  • In Lesson 4 the children are given opportunities to pull together all their thinking on commemorations using criteria to create a memorial for Northern Ireland which they feel may still be relevant in 100 years time.

Role of the Teacher

Teachers are encouraged to read the Ways of Thinking section on the Home Page, which may help them to reflect on some of the challenges that teaching about identity poses. The ‘approaches to subjects’ sections also provide guidance on the values, attitudes and skills which this type of work aims to develop in the children.

Rather than focus mainly on content and the acquisition of information, teachers are encouraged to choose approaches which allow for open ended discussion and exploration of topics. Teachers will assess the amount and level of detail and conceptual complexity appropriate for their class.