Nearly 100 S5 and S6 History pupils from across Scotland gathered in Edinburgh for our inaugural Learning and Legacy educational event on 18 November. The event was hosted by the National Museums Scotland in Chambers Street.
Delivered with support from Education Scotland, the event focused on recruitment and conscription during the First World War, with talks and workshops relating to these themes led by special guests from a range of key organisations.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, opened the day, with WWI re-enactor Dave Clarke compering the event in the role of a Highland Light Infantry Lieutenant.
Renowned military historian Sir Hew Strachan set the scene by talking about how attitudes to the war had differed in different countries at the outbreak and how these had changed as the war progressed. The pupils then split up to take part in a series of practical sessions.
Clare Smith, Head of Marketing at The Scottish Government, and Alison Metcalfe, from the National Library of Scotland, led a workshop on the role of PR and Propaganda during the war where the pupils learned more about tactics deployed by the Government to encourage men to enlist. They were shown a wealth of examples and asked to create their own World War One recruitment poster.
Alison Diamond from National Records Scotland and Nick Morgan from Education Scotland delivered a session on conscription tribunals with a look at some case studies, whilst Dr Billy Kenefick and Dr Derek Patrick from The University of Dundee and the Great War Dundee Project spoke about the substantial anti-war movement in the city.
In the afternoon, the pupils enjoyed a hands-on session with BBC Scotland, where they learned how the broadcasters considered how to make historical facts and events of interest to people today. The session ended with pupils interviewing some of the presenters from the morning sessions.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Connolly, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The City of Edinburgh Universities Officers’ Training Corps, led a final discussion on how the pupils would like to see Armistice 2018 commemorated in Scotland, before Professor Norman Drummond, Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, delivered a closing speech on what can, and should, be learned from the war.
The event was devised as part of the Scottish Commemorations Panel’s objective to provide opportunities for young people to learn about the war and its lasting impact on life in Scotland today. The Panel plan to hold similar events in different areas across the country and will focus on specific themes each year.
You can watch the interviews recorded by the students during the BBC sessions here.