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Remembering with the Arts

Stephen Hurley Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Tomorrow in the U.S., Canada and other places around the world, we pause to remember the Armistice signed on November 11, 1919. Many schools and community organizations draw on the arts to help people put memories and reflections around this day into some sort of perspective.

I would love to know how you are using the arts as a medium of expression in your school or wider community.

My grade eight class has chosen the theme, "Those Left Behind" to help explore the lives of those who stayed behind while their loved ones went off to war. We have engaged in thematic writing in role, some movement and some musical exploration and have created a 20-minute multimedia presentation for our K-8 student body. Its a non-traditional approach to the ceremony, and I hope that everyone will be able to take something away.

I would love to hear your stories and ideas!

Stephen

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memory and the arts

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Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your post. I think the arts can be a powerful means of helping people tap into their memories, and the arts can help students to make connections with a wider sense of collective memory. The example you gave, of asking students to remember the Armistice signed at the end of WWI.

For instance, in a creative writing project students can put themselves in a moment in history, and they can write from the perspective of someone who went through that experience. Recently I taught a poetry residency, and we read and discussed Ai's "Rwanda." Then students wrote historically based dramatic monologues.

Dan

Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Memory and the arts

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Dan,

I have also found that writing can help students negotiate meaning through perspective-taking. Although most students and teachers will never know the emotions experienced by some of those that we study in history and in our current news stories, I strongly believe that there is value in the process of trying to understand. I have been moved and impressed with what I have read from students in this regard.

Have you done any work in using poetry to have students talk about their own views of the world today. I would be very interested in that as well!

stephen

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