Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Millennials and History

I’ve been asked by a history teacher at my daughter’s school to do a number of presentations on Vietnam (specifically about conscription and the divisions it caused). Thinking about it – this is a daunting task.

The teacher in me asked her what prior learning the students had and what it was she wanted to focus on. The answer came back – social division and conscription.

How do you get these concepts and a true sense of the time across to a group of Millennials who generally have lived the good life (this is a relatively expensive private school) in a provincial city on Queensland – shielded by their wealth and lifestyles from an understanding of the historical realities of the sixties and seventies? How can they understand the tensions and debates of the time – then so stark without the distractions of the Net and the mobile?

The answer is that probably you can’t, so I’ll tell them my story, invite questions in the hope that I can turn a lecture into a conversation, and hopefully pepper it with some tips about researching the source documents and interrogating them to determine the difference between truth and spin.

If I can ignite a spark of interest that leads to honest and organised inquiry in just one or two of them, it will be worthwhile


Anonymous said...

Tell them your story. To do otherwise is to tell some one else's story.

Today's kids are so much more well informed than we ever were at that age. Indeed it is the younger generation who have pushed the renewed interest in Anzac Day. Look how many of the young attend Gallipoli.

It was not so long ago that Anzac Day was labelled us as a bunch of war mongerers.

I'd be interested on your views that the peace movement, centred in our universities, was really a smoke screen to enable those that didn't want to go to war to remain in the universities and so delay national service.

It is they who then influenced public opinion about how bad the Vietnam War was and it has only recently come to light that gee our diggers did a fine job over there. That the term 'drug crazed baby killers' didn't really apply to our boys.

Yep it is the younger generation who brought all this out in the open.

I'm sure you will agree that this is a good thing.

So yeah, tell them what it was like for you....


1735099 said...

In the end, what you suggested was precisely what I did.
It must have gone over OK, because some of the students from my first presentation doubled up for the second. They seemed genuinely interested, but I'm not sure what I was competing with - it may have been a very dull maths lesson.
I never saw the peace movement as a mechanism to escape National Service - not in any intentional way that is. Those who were called up at the tail end of National Service may have escaped when the scheme was abolished. For most - like me - it meant a delay.
In my case, the fact that I was at Teachers' College when I was called up meant that my enlistment was delayed by eighteen months so I could complete a year's teaching. It meant I was a bit older than the average which was probably a good thing.

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