Using Public Spaces to Teach Memorialization and Critical Thinking

Authors: Laura Matysek Wood*, Tarrant County College, Jason Clark-Miller, Tarrant County College
Topics: Historical Geography, Military Geography
Keywords: Historical Geography, Memory, Public Spaces, Tourism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Public spaces of memory throughout the world attempt to shape a community remembrance of war. Most observers respond to these memorials with awe but fail to examine what is being presented and why. As colleagues in two disciplines, we have created an experiential learning experience to examine these public spaces of memory. We push students to question the reason, meaning, symbolism and impact behind public spaces of memory – to see beyond the surface beauty. Our students grapple with how and why creators of these sites attempt to develop a specific memory and emotion, and they reflect on what or who is not included and why. Our program teaches how memories can be shaped and mythologized, and how those memories shape future policies and decisions. Our presentation will demonstrate how unique onsite assignments can turn the general site into a personal one so that students must confront their own responses to the narrative as displayed in the design and symbols of memorial sites. As nations struggle with their national memorialization, our presentation will illustrate a method to teach how to objectively analyze and discuss these issues with a sound foundation of knowledge and skills.

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