What makes an effective memorial?

Following on from our work about why some historical stories are repressed, denied and forgotten, Year 9 have taken on the big question ‘What makes an effective memorial?’  We have studied a selection of them and considered their significance over time.  We have discussed how they work and what a memorial should be trying to achieve.  The final challenge was to research and critique an existing memorial, or to design your own.  It is fabulous to work with a group that has family heritage beyond these shores.  We have all learnt so much from the independent research done by the students.  Having decided our own criteria for what makes a memorial effective, groups set about the challenge and the range may surprise you:

  • The First Opium War – this provoked interesting observations about why this story is seldom told in Britain and where a memorial should be placed.
  • The Hillsborough Disaster – this group paid close attention to the emotion and meaning of their memorial, and to remembering all the dead and wounded.
  • The Boy Heroes – this very nationalistic story and memorial from Mexico contrasted to attitudes to war and heroism that many of the girls are used to.
  • Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Rome – this has been incorporated into the story of the unification of Italy by the way it has been included into a memorial in Rome.
  • The Nanking Massacre – most girls did not know about this 1937 atrocity and made comparisons with what they had heard at the Holocaust Centre on Monday.
  • The 8-Nation Alliance – Britain was part of this and we discussed how the impact of this is also an untold story in Europe.
  • The Paris Attack – a very emotional memorial of a child with daisies was felt to be appropriate for something that is still in the public mind.
  • Rhonda Sakamoto – this Japansese moderniser remains controversial in Japan and little known outside.
  • Miami Holocaust memorial – the location of this needed explaining
  • 9/11 New York – opinions were very divided about whether this is a fitting memorial to have put up in a democracy.


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