At the end of a study project, challenge students to design a memorial to commemorate the event, theme, topic or individual.
I use this technique when studying Holocaust Memorial Day [full resources here]. First of all, I ask students to consider what events in international, national and personal history deserve to be ‘remembered’ and why. Then, students research (or are presented with images of) different memorials from around the world to get some initial ideas.
Then, they consider the following key questions to help them formulate their own concept for a memorial:
- What does the memorial get people to think about?
- Will it focus on the causes, or on the effects?
- Will it encourage quiet reflection, or provoke violent debate?
- What feelings does the memorial evoke?
- Regret? Guilt? Hope? Sadness? Anger? Other?
- What form does the memorial take?
- Sculpture? Mural? Gardens? Museum? Other?
- Where is it situated, and why?
- In a city (which one? why?) In the countryside (where? why?)
The final stage is to design their own memorial either on paper or as a model.
Taking it further
Students could design memorials for any individual, event, moment or topic being studied. In History this could be wars, leaders and heroes; in science they could commemorate key discoveries and scientists and so on.
Holocaust Memorial Project on ActiveHistory: Freely downloadable worksheets and powerpoint resources.
Peace Pledge Union: Fantastic resources and discussion points.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust: The Official website for the UK Holocaust Memorial Day, with useful information about particular genocides and other resources.