My Favourite Homework

(Another draft I found that was waiting for pictures…)

I have started setting my year 8 classes the same homework every Christmas holiday. The task is to talk to their oldest surviving relatives to find out what they remember about history. Christmas is a good time for this HW because a lot of people see family members during the festivities.

The ideal is if the relatives can remember a specific historical event, or were involved in it. The back up task is for pupils to find out what school was like when their relatives were young. This feeds into our old GCSE History Around Us coursework, which was about the school in the 1950s, so there are back up lessons I can teach if the class are really enthusiastic about this particular topic.

This is the third year I’ve done this homework. Predictably, I hear a lot of stories about the second world war and evacuees. Something amazing always comes out of it, though.
The first year, I had a pupil whose distant relation had been on the Titanic as a staff member, and who had been bribed to row the life boat away half full. He had newspapers naming his relative, with details of the court proceedings that took place after the event. It was very exciting.

Last year, one of my pupils came back with a story about his Romanian dad, who had been a student during the 1989 revolution and who had stood on the steps of the university in Bucharest, handing out weapons. Romania was my particular acamedic interest at university so I found this utterly thrilling and spent quite a lot longer than my appointment time at year 8 parents’ evening quizzing this poor man about it. The positive with this particular kid is that he hadn’t had a great time in History up until that point, but developed a real interest for it afterwards.

This year, I was keenly anticipating what would come back, and I haven’t been disappointed.

This turned up with a pupil yesterday. She said her great grandad found it on a beach some time after the end of WW2.

I spent considerable time Googling it and finding out what I could about it, in the end emailing this website to ask if they could help me to identify it. They have been extremely helpful and tell me it is a Luftwaffe flak cap; the red piping denotes artillery.

This has now given me an excellent homework for my year 9s, who will be allowed to view the hat, photograph it, make notes on it, and then will have to research it and write a story about how it got to the beach, as part of their study of WW2.

Amazing homework task! I can thoroughly recommend it.

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One Response to My Favourite Homework

  1. Dave Stacey says:

    What a great idea. We do a project where students have to create a family tree and find a family story, but that latter one can confuse some people. I much prefer your version, and will be *borrowing* it from this point onwards!

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