Living Historians

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Living Historians

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

During Term 3 our Year 5 students completed our first ever ‘Living Historians’ project with our neighbours and friends from Bethanie Retirement Village. Our connection with the residents at Bethanie has developed over the last two years, growing from the visits and relationships initiated by the Student Councillors across Years 3 to 6.

The purpose of the Living Historians project was to gain deeper connections with the elderly at Bethanie and to have them share their life stories. Our students worked in collaborative groups and actively participated in a series of interviews with their chosen residents through discussions on topics such as childhood, adulthood and highlights and challenges from their lives. As the Year 5 students soon realised, the residents had many interesting and varied stories. In completing this project and in presenting a wonderful portfolio on each resident’s life, it was encouraging to see our students develop a deeper understanding of the diversity of ethnic backgrounds living within our community and Australia. Many of our students, through the different stories told, developed a greater insight into the hardships associated with moving to a foreign country and establishing a new way of life within a new community.

Personally, I felt the power of the project was in observing the face to face conversations between our students and the verbal historians from Bethanie. Although there was some initial trepidation, the Year 5 students grew in confidence as the relationships developed and blossomed through the process of each meeting. Through the experience of the interviews and project, Mrs Duff, Mr Murray and myself hope we were able to teach the students the importance of remembering the past, acting responsibly in the present, and creating and working towards a more peaceful future.

As a result of the Living Historians project, it has been heartening to see our students grow not only as interviewers and researchers, but also as empathetic and considerate learners.

We thank the friendly residents from Bethanie for sharing their stories and the warm staff for their hospitality.

Mr Martin Tait :: Head of Primary