Teachers, your countries need you

History, nation and world war, 2014-18

In the last four years of his life the Swiss artist Eugène Burnand (1850–1921) created 104 portraits of people who had taken part, or were still taking part, in the first world war. The portraits depicted an immense diversity in terms of ethnicity, race, geographical origin, age, physical appearance, military rank and religious tradition. They vividly recorded that the war was indeed a world war, not just confined to Europe.

When published in a book in 1922 each portrait was accompanied by a short meditation by Burnand’s nephew, a military historian. The portraits and meditations are all now available at http://www.eugene-burnand.com/ and there are English translations of the original French. Amongst other things, they are an unusual and fascinating resource for teachers of history and citizenship in schools.

The portraits are introduced in an article at http://www.insted.co.uk/teachers-needed.pdf. Entitled ‘Teachers, your countries need you’, and sub-titled ‘History, Nation and World War, 2014-18’, the article begins by recalling key points about the first world war made by Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh in a House of Lords debate in December 2013. It continues with notes on some of the controversies about history teaching which have arisen in relation to a provocative article in the Daily Mail in January 2014 by Michael Gove. It concludes by introducing two new educational resources – a project based at the Institute of Education, London, and the website featuring the work of Eugène Burnand.

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