While our project focused on schools in England, research on how the First World War is taught is of course happening elsewhere, too. Professor Troy Paddock, Professor of Modern European History at Southern Connecticut State University, has kindly agreed to make available an article he co-authored with Dr Catherine K. Shortell for the journal The History Teacher in 2011. You can download the article below.
The article, entitled ‘Teaching the Great War through Peace’, looks specifically at teaching the war in a US context. With all of the time constraints and institutional pressures that teachers face, it argues, it may seem odd to suggest using an anomalous event such as the Christmas Truce to study the First World War. However, the uniqueness of this event helps grab the attention of students and, as we shall demonstrate, can be used both to illustrate the common meta-narrative of the war (and its limits) and to meet major curriculum standards. Middle and high school teachers are familiar with the thematic strands in the curriculum standards for social studies: I: “Culture;” II : “Time, Continuity, and Change;” III: “People, Places, and Environments;” IV: “Individual Development and Identity;” V: “Individuals, Groups, and Institutions;” VI: “Power, Authority, and Governance;” VII: “Production, Distribution, and Consumption;” VIII : “Science, Technology, and Society;” IX: “Global Connections;” and X: “Civic Ideals and Practices.”2 The following discussion does not claim to be complete. What it does is offer a way to think about the war in a manner that meets curriculum requirements, engaging students with an event that is now almost a century in the past and (in their view) unrelated to the current world. 02 N11 Shortell and Paddock