Jim Beach reports on the second-year field trip to the Imperial War Museum.
February’s weather has been fickle these past few years. The First World War module’s visit to the Imperial War Museum has often coincided with snow flurries or clear, bright winter’s days. But this year’s story was, on the way in at least, one of very heavy rain.
Because it was wet and the school half-term, the museum seemed more crowded than usual. But this did not hinder the second years in reaching the entrance to First World War galleries at the appointed hour. Then, primed by a short briefing and the promise of a debrief in the pub afterwards, they sallied forth into the melee of mums, dads, grandparents, and kids.
Although constrained by the relatively small footprint of its building in in Lambeth, South London, the museum has managed to pack a great deal of material into these galleries. There is always something new to discover, and the displays reflect the quality and quantity of the IWM’s collections.
Our module’s field trip is deliberately timed. By mid-February the students have covered three-quarters of the syllabus. This means they know enough so not to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. And pennies often drop as sections of the galleries reinforce material covered earlier in class.
One feature of the History degree at Northampton is a recurring opportunity to engage with optional field trips.
Students posing in front of historical military hardware at the Imperial War Museum!
Last Thursday sixteen second-year students took a break from their normal classes to visit the Imperial War Museum. Most were studying the optional module HIS2014 First World War and they were accompanied by their lecturer, Dr Jim Beach. Exploring the recently-upgraded First World War galleries they encountered a multitude of items relevant to the module’s content. The artefacts helped to reinforce their previous learning and some displays offered fresh insights. Elbowing younger competitors aside, the students were also able to rediscover their inner child by trying on helmets and uniforms!
This field trip is now in its fourth-year and, as is now customary, everyone adjourned afterwards to a nearby pub to reflect upon the afternoon’s meandering. And, in a similar vein to previous years, the discussion also turned into an initial planning conference for the History Society trip to Vienna at the end of the students’ third year. That trip also includes First World War galleries but, being in an Austrian military museum, they tell the story of the conflict from a very different perspective.
Dr Jim Beach