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What do teens remember on Remembrance Day?

University of Alberta

It's a question that fascinates George Richardson, a researcher from the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education. What do high school students remember during Remembrance Day celebrations"

To answer that question he did a study involving a group of grade 12 students at an Edmonton high school. They were asked questions including "What, in your view, is the purpose of Remembrance Day?" and "What do you "remember" on Remembrance Day?" Richardson was surprised by the results. He found most of the teens related the honourary day to the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I and World War II, but didn't attach the significance to what's happening in the world today. Fewer than 10% of the students mentioned Afghanistan and Iraq.

Richardson says this begs the question of how to bring Remembrance Day forward into events (and sacrifices) made more recently. He plans to do a larger "follow-up" study in November of 2008. He will ask the same questions but with a broad cross-section of students and will check back on the earlier results to see what (if anything) has changed in how students view Remembrance Day.

What encouraged Richardson was that the majority felt Remembrance Day was an important celebration. The teens said they felt it plays a significant role in helping develop a common sense of national identity.

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This paper was presented to the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) Conference, London.

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