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June 1998 - Issue No. #31 (p.16)

An EFL Peace Museum Field Trip

by Sabrina and Winston Welch

Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan

For several years now, we have included a student excursion to a local peace museum as summer homework as part of our content-based "Global Studies" English course at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.

Our Global Studies EFL course focusses on English speaking skills, and the issue of war and peace is a basic part of the course. We came up with the idea of the peace museum excursion in order to enrich our unit on peace and war, and to increase student awareness so as to stimulate further discussion of these issues.

Students were asked to visit the "Peace Osaka" Museum in Osaka City as their summer homework and were required to turn in a minimum two-page paper on what they experienced and felt about the exhibition and the museum itself. The museum proved ideal for our English language learners, since the displays are bilingual in both English and Japanese. This particular museum was also chosen for its relatively balanced and objective approach to this potentially controversial subject. The main focus is on World War II in Asia and Japan, including information about the Japanese occupation of Korea and China. The first class period following the summer break was used to debrief the students and to have them share their experiences (in English or Japanese) with their classmates. Here are representative comments from (unedited) student reports:

  • The Osaka Peace Museum was interesting and worth going to because we should know the history whether good or not, also the museum made me think of consideration for other people who live in other countries.

  • I could find new information about World War II that I have never heard or seen in school textbook before. I felt deceived by my own high school textbook.

  • I think people in Japanese and all governments must visit to such a place and know about it. We need new world, but we don't need to repeat history.

  • Nowadays we live in rich and happy society, but we take it for granted because a lot of people forget exactly what happened about 50 years ago. The Osaka Peace Museum was nice and precious place not to forget the preciousness of peace in Japan.

  • Thank you for giving me this assignment. To tell the truth, I don't like writing a report but to write what I look at and I think is very important. I could make sure of my emotions and how I felt about it and what I thought about it before discussion through writing a report.

  • It helps me to talk and teach my children or anybody who asks me.

  • After my two classmates and I saw the exhibition, we talked a lot about our children's future, Korean people living in Japan, etc. We seldom talk about these things in daily life.

The comments given show that the students overwhelmingly found the field trip a useful and valuable experience. They were able, in most cases, to gain important knowledge, awareness and personal insight into the topics at the museum. We also feel they gained critical thinking skills, as well. They could learn of the historical experience of Japan and its relations with its Asian neighbours in a balanced way so that they can now comprehend and deal with the reality of the situation as well as form a good foundation upon which to pursue further studies on their own. They also learned about World War II in general, and about other current war and peace issues which they had largely been unaware of until their visit to the museum.

These comments show how a museum field trip or similar excursion can aid in increasing student knowledge, awareness and understanding of critical global issues such as war and peace of which they may have no experience or previous knowledge, but which are part of their human heritage. By vicariously experiencing the war in Osaka, our students can actively imagine their own aspirations and possible future contributions to peace in a world still struggling to find it.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650