Friday 10 Feb, 2017

Teach the Trench

Fred B teaches Canadian History and pre-law in Kemptville, Ontario and is continuing his legacy of world event related educational travel by taking his class to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France. Learn how Fred brings the “experience” to experiential learning.

Students Display Their Completed Trench

The history department at St, Michael CHS focuses on bringing history to life for the students.  The students have built authentic, to-scale First World War-style trenches behind the school that allow them to truly appreciate the conditions faced by our brave soldiers in the Great War.  Students spend their days building all aspects of the trench system based on specifications they researched. The various types of trenches represented at St. Michael CHS include “front line” and “communication” trenches, dugouts, bunkers, and even latrines. This year, in special commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, they have even built a 70’ tunnel, which reflects the specifications of a front line trench at Vimy Ridge.

Students volunteered to spend a night in the trenches re-enacting trench life and battle simulations, eating trench rations, and writing letters home all under simulated trench conditions including the sound of artillery bombardments and machine gun fire amplified through large studio speakers. They could truly understand the experience the soldiers went through during those cold and muddy years in the First World War. Going to Vimy to see the actual sight of the battle with thousands of other Canadians is a natural step in the learning process and will appropriately round off the journey back in time.

Learning about Canada’s history...is necessary for students in order for them to truly appreciate… Click To Tweet

It is important for students to appreciate what our brave soldiers went through throughout the wars Canada participated in.  The connection they make by going on these trips, by researching soldiers who fought in these wars and visiting the grave sites of these soldiers in Europe and by building and experiencing trenches all help the students connect to why history is important for all to study and understand.  I believe it was Pierre Burton who said “If you are going to teach history, throw away the textbooks”.

Students Completed Trench with Tombstone Replicas

Canada is a key player in international affairs and has, over the past 150 years, become an important contributor to how events and decisions unfold in the world.  Our history, such as in the case of the First World War and Vimy, is what has allowed us to be an international player.  Students must understand what Canada means on the international scene and how it has evolved over the years to become such an important player in global affairs.  Learning about Canada’s history and visiting such places as Vimy, where we were born as a nation, is necessary for students in order for them to truly appreciate what we mean not only to ourselves, but the world as well.

Planning your next adventure? Explore the world with your students on an EF Educational Tour. Browse itineraries here.