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The Pedagogy of Heritage - More to history than meets the 'I'?

Who am I? Where do I come from? Where do I fit in? Challenging questions that even the most self-assured adults struggle with at times. In our latest community-based project, we explore the ways in which Heritage and Culture can help young people develop a sense of identity and belonging.

This year, 2018, we celebrate the centenary of the end of The Great War. Better known as World War One, it waged throughout Europe between 1914 to 1918, and resulted in the loss of an estimated 18 million lives. While there were many circumstances surrounding the build-up to the war, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 was for many, the most crucial. But how many of the young soldiers in training at Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow, Scotland knew then, as the news filtered in from Austria, just how significant this seemingly isolated and far off event would become?

Our #Minecraft barracks map takes learners on a journey into the past, where they can experience life in a working barracks, interact with soldiers, take part in training exercises, receive their standing orders and build the barracks for themselves. The aim of this project is to connect with young people who now live in the housing estate that was once this former barracks, and help them come to understand the heritage of their local area, and its importance in The Great War. Through doing so, we aim to foster an open dialogue between young people, and older members of the community through the sharing stories and memories, handed down from the rich military history that once sustained this community.

Our heritage Minecraft maps, provide an opportunity for learners to walk in the shoes of those who have gone before, and learn how the events that unfolded and the decisions that were made undoubtedly led to the world that they experience today. It targets a commonly reported issue that children have with learning about the past – the idea that what occurred happened to other people, in other places, and too long ago to fully relate to. The connection between global historic events and their home, their family, and their life is too difficult to grasp. In order to address this, we utilise the powerful digital visualisation tools provided by #Minecraft to bridge this conceptual divide. We ask the deeper question

‘How does your local area, it’s landscape and heritage shape your identity?’

An embedded strand in social studies curricula around the world, this important question – if explored fully, can help learners develop a deeper connection to their place, not just here in this locale, but in this time, and as part of this community. In beginning to explore the answers to this question, young people, begin to define themselves within the wider context of their community. In short, it can promote the growth of embryonic roots, the same kind of roots that over time create a sense of groundedness and stability, ‘family roots’, ‘community roots’ and so on. This cornerstone of the social studies curriculum, if developed through to its natural end point, can help form the basis of a sense of identity and belonging.

Our recent article on #Heritage and #Humanities, nods to the disconcerting trend that #STEM learning is being aggressively promoted in schools, often to the detriment of other areas of learning. Our Humanities maps provide a context for learning across the curriculum, including science, engineering and mathematics. In particular, this Heritage map paves the way for #Literacy and Storytelling, #Collaboration, #ProblemSolving #Creativity #Numeracy, #DigitalSkills and #Engineering, not to mention the more obvious connections to #History, #Geography and #PoliticalScience. We’ve also been using the learning resources to tap into the rich learning opportunities associated with Sustainable Development Goals and the #TeachSDGs campaign.

With this range of learning opportunities, as well as the possibilities for intergenerational connection, and community cohesion, and with it's great potential to nurture a sense of belonging among young people, it is our great pleasure to work with community groups and schools in Maryhill, Glasgow to share the learning resources created through the Wyndford People’s History Project.

We would like to take this opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by those who went to war in hope that they would create a better world for us.

The Minecraft Maryhill Barracks learning resources will be launched on June 7th at The Hub, Maryhill, Glasgow. Find out more about the Wyndford People's History Project and where to access the learning resources.

Image: A Minecraft reconstruction of a field of poppies for Remembrance Day, marking the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918

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