Experiencing the Revolution of 1956 as a Child (LS-HU-517)

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 is an important event in Hungary’s history. This is what inspired my learning scenario.

Seeing the revolution from a unique perspective

In our project, we focused on three children who had to leave their home country after the failure of the revolution. We could have an insight into their feelings, thoughts and experiences through three interviews. With these texts, it became possible for us to analyse and see the revolution from a unique perspective which did not have the usual distance of a coursebook. Studying from a historical book sometimes might be too theoretical. In our project, we aimed to be practical.

Main goals

Working with interviews helps to develop students’ reading comprehension skills in English. Furthermore, when history is taught by personal stories students can feel and understand everyday life during those fateful events better. The interviewees (children aged 11-12) represent their grandparents’ generation. While reading these stories the school time of the Soviet-era becomes alive and clear for these grandsons and granddaughters. The students, that are teenagers now, can get familiar with what it was like to be an adolescent in 1956.

Ideiglenes sír a Károlyi kertben. Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Nagy Gyula (1922-1991) CC BY NC SA

Activities

Firstly, students have to read one interview at home. Then we talk about the interviews together. Activities for groups: group 1 collects photos from Europeana and Fortepan databases about school life in the 1950s. After collecting pictures, students make mind maps or posters and upload them onto Padlet and/or print them. Group 2 makes a presentation about the child heroes of the revolution. Students can use materials from the school library and the Internet as well. It is an exciting ethical question of how one should relate to very young freedom fighters. Group 3 writes a fictional text entitled “Letter to my grandchild” – in the name of the interviewees. Finally, they present the results of their research work.

Conclusion

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 can be well taught with the help of the interviews. The tasks can give a deeper understanding of the children’s role in these events. Another benefit is that while the personal background of the political and historical events is studied history becomes “touchable”.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY-NC-SA 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum.

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