Kathryn Erickson studies at the Faculty of Education, at Queen’s University, Kingston ON. For the past month, she joined the Juno Beach Centre team as a research intern. She shared her experiences of working on Juno:
Over the past month I had the opportunity to observe the different aspects of educational programming at the Juno Beach Centre. My main goal was to evaluate how students interacted with each aspect of the Centre, including the Juno Park Tours, the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions, and the film, “They Walk with You.” As part of this evaluation I surveyed over 20 Canadian History teachers in order to find out how they prepared their students for the trip and what impact their preparation had on their group’s experiences.
Some of the school groups did soldier research and had prepared for months in advance of their trip. I was very excited to hear about their research and the teachers were confident that the students benefited immensely from making the personal connection to the past. Oftentimes those teachers would call students over to have them tell me about their research. A grade 12 student from Calgary, Alberta said “It was hard to find information, but it was nice to put a face, or I guess grave, to a name.” There is so much power in personal connections and I was disappointed to hear that only five of the school groups did any sort of research.
It was easy to engage the school groups who hadn’t done a lot of preparation when they were open to listen and explore what the Juno Beach Centre has to offer. After surveying his teacher, a grade 12 student from Windsor, Ontario told me “I just love Canadian History,” and the museum allowed him to really get into the subject. A teacher from Winnipeg, Manitoba, mentioned that he “really liked the layout of the museum as the students were able to easily follow the story.” However, some groups were obviously not interested in rich history of the area, or what the JBC represents. Many were too focused on the free WiFi, some were exhausted from their busy trip and others walked into the Centre not ever having heard of Juno Beach.
My dream is to someday bring my own students to Europe to learn about the past. We will visit Canadian war sites and remember those who fought for our country. This internship has showed me the importance of preparing students for what they are going to see, and doing my best to make sure they are engaged in what they are experiencing. Places like the Juno Beach Centre have a lot to offer educators and students, both at home and in France. We must make sure that the past lives on for future generations.
Kathryn Erickson, Faculty of Education
Queen’s University, Kingston ON
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.