Then the preparations for the students will start. They will get an interview training by the teacher, which will take 1-2 lessons of 50 minutes. During this training they will learn how to ask responsible questions, how to listen carefully and not interrupt their interviewee.
The next lesson will be implemented in the city. All student groups will go to the city accompanied by a teacher or parent who will assist them in the city and keep an eye on them. The goal in the city is to observe the monument, take photos and interview people passing by about their knowledge and opinion about the monument. If possible, the interviewees could also be filmed or recorded. When doing research about the history of a migrant community, the goal is to interview an informal migrant leader and to take photos if possible. This will take approximately a whole morning or afternoon.
During the project one student is appointed as the leader of the group and one person is responsible for the report and presentation which is produced by contributions of the entire group.
In the final phase, the students will make the report on the monument and also present this in front of the class. Afterwards the teacher will give feedback on the findings. The other students in the classroom can jump in with questions or comments, which eventually can lead towards a group discussion. This phase also includes 1 to 2 lessons of 50 minutes.
Obstacles and lessons learned
The team encountered several obstacles in using the “Memory Walk” throughout international context. This was first of all introducing the project to unexperienced teachers and students who were not introduced yet to project-based work, field trips and independent research. This resulted in teachers and students being overwhelmed and not really able to participate in the “Memory Walk”. Another thing is that the project time-consuming, because it has 3 different phases: preparation, implementation and processing. Teachers and students, but also schools in general should be open to the idea of these time-consuming phases.
Another thing is that monuments or informal migrant leaders should be present in the city or village where students live, otherwise the “Memory Walk” cannot be used as an effective method.
Permission must be given by all parents. If children are not allowed by their parents to go to the city or visit a migrant leader because of certain political views for example, this could also be an obstacle. Solution to this problem is that these children could stay in school, do their research online and present this to the class.
Also the consent of the interviewees could be problematic, if they do not give permission to share this material in the classroom.
The project has developed throughout the years in Dutch and international contexts in schools with diverse backgrounds and diverse students. A few lessons have been learned which deal with the interviews and interview trainings. The key is to spend more time on the interview trainings for the students, then the quality of the interviews will also improve. On top of that more attention needs to go out to the group dynamic. Inclusiveness needs to be stimulated during the interviews, so that everyone will get the chance to ask their questions. Allow not only the verbally strong children who are dominant during the interview, but also the others to ask their questions.
The effect of the practice
The visible results of the project were that students became more motivated during class, they wanted to acquire more knowledge about their cities and history. A sense of belonging in society was also fostered, awareness of multiperspectivity in history grew and students went home with the stories they had learned and started talking to their parents about it.
Recently Barry van Driel started developing an instrument to officially measure the impact the “Memory Walk” has on students. He developed an anonymous questionnaire with specific questions concerning national history and the monuments. The anonymous questionnaire will take place before and after the “Memory Walk”, which will allow us to see if perspectives have been transformed.