“Lost for Words” – Lest We Forget!

lest we forget wreathr

Katherine Zablatnik is an innovative teacher from Austria who brings textbooks to life wherever possible. She is responsible for creating the Hello Little World Skypers group which won the Edublogs awards for the winner of the “Best Use of Social Media” in 2013.

As a history teacher she is keen to make the centenary of  the start of World War I alive for her students. Today, I linked up with her students and shared how we commemorate Armistice Day at school, here in Australia. However, we call it “Remembrance Day”. Although it is not a public holiday, we hold a special commemorative service in the Reflection Space in the centre of Hawkesdale. Students walk up there and interested community members  join us.

students teachers

The student leadership team together with several staff members organise and run the service. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we hold a minute’s silence across Australia to remember especially those who served in both World War I.

A presentation was quickly put together to show our Student Leadership team at work at lunchtime in preparing for the special service that we hold each year. The reflection space, the school wreath, a summary of the program etc Link to the presentation

I talked about the program for tomorrow which is as follows:

  • Student led Introduction
  • In Flanders Fields
  • Commemorative address (Sarah, one of our student leaders)
  • Wreath Laying
  • The Ode for the Fallen
  • Playing of the Last Post, followed by the Rouse when the flag is again raised to the top of the flagpole
  • Singing our National Anthem

But when I talked aabout the odes and poems we use, they had not heard of them. They wanted to know what the red poppies were about. And I was flabbergasted as I thought everyone knew them.  Then I asked what they did to commemorate this day. The answer was ‘nothing’. I asked about the minute’s silence – they do not have one. Katherine asked what those words “Lest we Forget” signify on the school wreath.

However, they thought it might be an idea to join in with ours and maybe next year we could do something together. This has driven my curiousity further – where was Austria placed in the war, how do they feel about it all, how do Katherine’s students feel about us commemorating those who went away to fight for us. We are an island on the other side of the world and so, so far away from the battlefields.

They asked whether our textbooks and our learning of history was biased. Do we see some sides of the war and the countries as being ‘good and bad’? My response was yes, we do? But maybe that is my age .What do our students think? I am going to ask them tomorrow. Can we rewrite our history books? Can we learn more about each other together and avoid many of these conflicts that potentially exist.

When I asked Katherine further questions via the skype chat, she simply replied: “I am lost for words”. Now I am pondering on that!

The Sound of Music is one of our most popular movies and I guess it speaks volumes about some of the feeling in Austria at the time.

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