Outside the Classroom Walls: Understanding War and Peace on the Western Front
A sample of 197 tourists, comprised mainly of older, Australian, Belgian and British nationalities was selected at two Great War (1914–1918) museums in Belgium and France. Questionnaires were used to collect data about visitors’ attitudes towards war museums and military cemeteries. An exploratory factor analysis of items designed to measure the purpose of military cemeteries extracted three factors: desire to visit (military cemeteries), understanding and remembrance. The study supports the notion that “getting outside” enhances understanding at these sites, in addition to the opportunities provided by more formal places, such as a museum and the classroom. This must be considered within the context of the battlefields, where the ‘evidence’ of war has been removed, and interpretation of the landscape is difficult without prior knowledge. Visitors were positive about visiting military cemeteries, seeing them as interesting, meaningful and important memorials. Different tests produced somewhat conflicting results, about the association of peace and understanding the war at the cemeteries, thus supporting other studies. Overall, the study supports the mutually reinforcing nature of formal and informal educational experiences in understanding the Great War.
KeywordsMilitary cemeteries understanding museums On-site learning Peace
- Barton, P. (2014). The lost legions of fromelles: The true story of the most dramatic battle in Australia’s history. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). (2017). https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-cemeteries-and-memorials/53300/tyne-cot-cemetery. Accessed 21 November 2017.
- Corfield, R. S. (2009). Don’t forget me cobber: The battle of fromelles. Carlton: The Miegunyah Press.Google Scholar
- DeVellis, R. (1991). Scale development: Theory and applications. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Lindsay, P. (2008). Fromelles: Australia’s darkest day and the dramatic discovery of our fallen World War One diggers. Prahran: Hardie Grant Books.Google Scholar
- Lloyd, D. (1998). Battlefield Tourism: Pilgrimage and the commemoration of the Great War in Britain, Australia and Canada. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
- Pallant, J. (2013). SPSS survival manual (5th ed.). Australia: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
- Prior, R., & Wilson, T. (2002). Passchendaele: The untold story. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Sharpley, R., & Stone, P. R. (2009). The darker side of travel: The theory and practice of dark tourism. Clevedon: Channel View.Google Scholar
- Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
- Todman, D. (2005). The great war: Myth and memory. London: Hambledon and London.Google Scholar
- Van Alstein, M. (2011). The great war remembered: Commemoration and peace in flanders fields. Report. Brussels: Flemish Peace Institute.Google Scholar
- Walter, T. (2009). Dark tourism: Mediating between the dead and the living. In R. Sharpley & P. R. Stone (Eds.), The darker side of travel: The theory and practice of dark tourism (pp. 39–55). Clevedon: Channel View.Google Scholar
- Westtoer, (2014). Wereldoorlog I bezoekers in the Westhoek 2013, Presentation. Brussels: Westtoer Tourism.Google Scholar
- Winter, C. (2016). Tourism and making the places after war: The Somme and Ground Zero. AlmaTourism, (Special Issue), 5, 26–43.Google Scholar
- Winter, C. (2017). The multiple roles of battlefield war museums: A study at Fromelles and Passchendaele. Journal of Heritage Tourism, Published online 8 February 2017, https://doi.org/10.1080/1743873x.2017.1287189.