Remembrance education, citizenship and art (Belgium contribution about field research walks in Oostende, Diksmuide, Ieper, Brussels)

Observing and decoding statues and memorials provides one of the best resources for active citizenship and commemoration. Through public art we not only see certain connections with culture and its traditions but we also see aspects of judgement on that culture.
Realise the following activities. Select an example of an important local, regional or national historical site or war monument you are familiar with. Then apply the following questions to that site or monument.
You choose a monument and try to discover its meaning in the context of the history of this city. Maybe you can ask people in the street about the content or even their appreciation… Answer the following questions and perform the tasks step by step…


Step 1: The con –text of a monument

What is the theme of the selected war monument/site? Describe all possible details
( persons, gesture, attributes, dressing, composition, material)?
Give your interpretation of the collected details!

When was the monument created? Why? Is there a ‘historical’ link with the environment or neighbourhood?

Is the monument above or below ground?

Does the monument contains controversial elements or message?

Task 1: Make a pencil sketch of the monument!

Step 2: The text of a monument / historical site!

Observe the text that you can find on or around the monument
Are there (problematic) words or symbols that would have been used today, or by other groups? Which words are common to you? What’s your interpretation? Do you have enough information or do you think you miss any necessary information to understand the meaning and context of the monument completely?
Is your selected monument based on a folk tale or a historical event? Can you reconstruct the story based on elements of the monument?

Task 2: Invent a ‘title’ of your own dedicated to this monument?

Step 3: The social dimension of a monument/historical site

Can you find out who sponsored or commissioned it? Do you think the statue was supported by the government or by a NGO? Is there protection or security necessary around this monument? Is their graffiti on this monument?
What kinds of interaction do you observe ( e.g. photograph taking, climbing, discussion,…)?
Does the ‘message’ of the statue play a role, or does curiosity seem to be more a significant factor to conclude about the intensive interaction with the statue?

Task 3: Add a (dream or text balloon) to your pencil sketch and write a short text from the point of view of the monument…
If you could change something about or add something to the monument what would it be? Explain!
Now add another text balloon to your pencil sketch from the point of view of the audience! The message has to express an opinion pro or contra.

Step 4: The ritual dimension of a monument/ historical site

Are there any rituals or ceremonies connected with this monument or historical site?
When? Who are involved in this ritual?
Is there a link with a certain belief or confession?

Task 4: If not, could you introduce and describe a kind of ritual?
Could you determine the space as a sacred place? Why? Why not?

Step 5: The educational or pedagogical dimension of a monument/historical site

Which arguments or criteria would you express as a teacher to select this
monument for citizenship or moral/religious education?


Task 5: You make a sightseeing tour with peers/pupils and you pass the monument.
Would you pay attention to it?
How would you react if a pupil/ a friend asked you about the meaning?
How will you introduce this monument to peers?
Can you link it with their particular or fresh experiences?

Conclusion: In your opinion is this monument, this memorial or historical site useful for citizenship education, remembrance education or moral/religious education?  Why(not)