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Author Article by Allison Paterson
Her belief in fostering a community spirit, empathy and the importance of carrying on commemorative traditions are some of what formed Allison’s inspirations into developing her invaluable resources on Australian history and war. Allison, what an honour to have someone like you keeping those sacrifices made in the hearts of generations to come.
Walking in the footsteps of ancestors and discovering what they endured for the life we have today can be a humbling experience, it can also be motivating and life-changing. My first publication Anzac Sons: the Story of Five Brothers in the War to End Wars, took me on a journey of discovery and developed a conviction to continually share the stories that I had uncovered. I strongly believe that understanding your heritage and appreciating the past is the key to identity and moving into the future.
I have worked as a teacher and teacher librarian for too many years to mention and I now work as a both a writer and presenter in schools. I am frequently asked to talk about the children’s version of Anzac Sons titled Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front. In doing so I confirmed my long-term concern. In discussions with mid-to-upper Primary-age children there is a widespread misconception that the experience of the Anzacs began and ended at Gallipoli. Once a specific Year 6 topic, today it is not until Year 9 that the curriculum outlines the service of Australians after the birth of the Anzac legend. Students may have opportunities to visit the Australian War Memorial on school visits, and teachers and families do fill the gaps, but, generally the idea that Gallipoli is World War I seems to be common in the Primary years.
I come back to my belief – understanding your past helps you move into the future. The Anzac spirit contributes to Australian values, so, in those critical years as children are beginning to reflect and be socially aware, to understand the service and sacrifices of both our ancestors and those who serve today must surely contribute to the development of identity and an understanding of what it means to be Australian. I believe that self-understanding and knowledge of service helps develop community spirit and empathy for others.
My teacher librarian experience added to my concern. I felt that I was supplying teachers with the same non-fiction resources regarding the origins and traditions of Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. In addition, the lack of information regarding war memorials was significant. An idea was born! I wanted to provide a very useful and curriculum specific book that filled those gaps and would be valued by both teachers and children.
Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials presents a detailed explanation of the origins and traditions of Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, exploring both their connections and significance to young Australians today. The colourful traditions and symbols of these special days are described in language that is easily accessible to younger readers, helping them to understand what these mean and how important it is to remember those Australians who have fought for their country and those who keep us safe today. Young readers are also invited to reflect, and never forget, as they investigate the commemorative role and history of the countless memorials spread across Australia and beyond.
Australia Remembers is designed to ensure that the next generation shares the history and understands the traditions of these important commemorative occasions. I’m currently researching the next book in the series titled Australia Remembers: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force. It will expand on some of the rituals which students see on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. There are so many stories to tell!
Reflect on Australia Remembers with this thoughtful review by Vanessa Ryan at Educate Empower.
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