This amazing visit comprised a review of four units of study for the IGCSE History curriculum. From an interactive Cold War presentation entitled ‘The Shadow of the Future’, the delivery and discursive nature of which was facilitated by Mr Holdway, Mr Hopkins, Mr Plumpton, Mrs Braithwaite and Mrs Welsh, to engaging with hands-on exhibits of how the theory and practice of flight has evolved, this trip stimulated and inspired learning.
Pupils asked questions, responded to prompts and were directed to key exhibits which deepened their awareness of how warfare and connected technology has moved on during the twentieth century. In ‘The Land Warfare’ hangar, having followed the development of technology from the First World War through to modern ‘Cold War’ missiles, the Royal Anglian Regiment Museum allowed pupils to see how the pride of the British Army is upheld globally; ‘the Forgotten War’ exhibition laid bare the horrors of jungle warfare and the challenges faced by POWs in World War Two; the highly effective Normandy Campaign experience exhibited the destruction of this part of France and made pupils aware of the parts played by different units, personnel and key figures such as General Montgomery
Having interacted with the President of the USA (JFK) by phone link, pupils took on the role of the RAND Corporation in recommending the best course of action for the US to follow during the Cuban Missile Crisis; they also explored the awesome American Air Museum which provided an idea of the scale and scope of the Cold War technology whilst laying bare many personal stories of heroism and tragedy. Where else can today’s students experience the difficulties and responsibilities of Cold War leaders and appreciate the scale of the potential horror of nuclear war?
In ‘Air Space’ the theory and evolution of airpower was clearly shown, with fascinated studies of the Spitfire, Vulcan and Lancaster bombers. The ‘History of Duxford’ and 1940’s Control Room’ allowed pupils to experience secondary sources and engage with primary sources to glean an appreciation of the lives of those who had shared the fears and hopes of the RAF in the dark days of 1940 and beyond. Witnessing the smell, size and spectacle of the variety of ‘Battle of Britain’ aircraft and examining the shelters of the Home Front brought home the reality of the Blitz, the bravery of our pilots and the terror of Nazi domination of Europe.
All in all, a fascinating and really worthwhile experience for everyone concerned and a great, relatively traffic jam free journey both ways!