WWI

Schoolchildren Debate The Impact Of The Great War

Historians leading the debate said they were encouraged by the students' knowledge.

Schoolchildren in Oxfordshire have been debating and grappling with the impact of the First World War.

The 'Great War Debate', a series of debates led by military historians, has travelled across Britain and aims to increase awareness among teenagers about the conflict.

“It was only a hundred years ago,” historian Gareth Davies told Forces News, “and I know that’s more than a couple of generations but it’s not that far away.

"It was an important war, it was very different from previous wars, it was a total war.

"It was an industrial war and it affected most of the country.

“I think if you look around anywhere you’ll find a war memorial in every single town and village.

"That shows how much the First World War affected the country. And I think because of those reasons, it’s important to study it.”

He added that the questions from the audience were “very good” and had left him “hugely encouraged”.

His colleague, Dan Hill, concurred:

“I suppose the really surprising thing about the history of the Great War - when it comes to students - is not what they don’t know but what they do. They’re incredibly knowledgeable,” Mr Hill told Forces News.

“They have a great base of knowledge, a real ability to learn – perhaps more so than the general public at large – and the way that they can engage with the subject, and show that they can grasp really quite complex topics, has been incredible throughout.”  

The Great War Debate in Oxfordshire 071218 CREDIT BFBS
Professional historians answered the audience's questions as best they could.

“I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the First World War before I came here,” said student Oscar Idle.

“It was fascinating to find out about how much technology had an impact on the First World War.”

“It was very interesting to learn about the War and how everything happened,” agreed Shania Smith.

Renad Eldawi said she thought learning about the First World War was “really important”.

“Obviously it’s something that we need to learn [about in order] to avoid doing it again... The youth should know what happened a hundred years ago.”

Organisers hope that with events like this, in another hundred years from now, future generations will still have a reason to care about the history of the Great War.