Exploring Edinburgh!

Whilst Steph and I had Stephanie’s friend from America, Apshara, over for the week. We thought we should take a trip to the capital to show her a little more of Scotland. Perfect time for another Social Studies blog!

All ready for our trip to the capital with our tartan and irn bru, stereotypical Scots!

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When we arrived in Edinburgh, we decided to go to Princes’ Street Gardens and the Wallace Monument. What I had never realised until we were looking for things to do to show Apshara was that you can go up the Wallace Monument. This is something I had walked past numerous times and never even considered. It is however, now that I know it is an option, is something I would be very interested to do at a later day because we did not have long in Edinburgh.

The Wallace Monument

At the gardens, there was a World War II Remembrance Day memorial surrounding the Wallace Monument. The memorial was hundreds of poppies on little plaques to represent the fallen who had served our country during World War II. This, in my opinion, felt like a representation of Flanders Field. Although I had never studied the poem Flanders Field in school, the memorial gave a very apparent representation of the image I had in my mind of Flanders Field. It was, personally, a very touching memorial.

The World War II Remembrance Day Memorial in Edinburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The memorial did not immediately seem relevant to a blog post or my assignment but as I have sat down to write this post, the relevance to my assignment is indisputable. The critical viewpoint of history’s place in the Curriculum for Excellence in short can be argued in two lights. One by the postmodernist views which state that history and some sources validity must be questions as accounts are in their view simply stories and the relevance of those stories must therefore be questioned. On the other hand, the relevance of understanding our heritage, how society was formed and understanding key world events such as World War II is critical to children’s understanding of the world but must be taught with relevance to the world and their lives today for example through Interdisciplinary Learning topics which also focus on issues in current society. This has all come into my social studies assignment. I felt the memorial did a spectacular job of capturing the importance of World War II in today’s society and it really moved me personally.

Part of the memorial was the ‘Tree of Thanks’. The Tree was to allow for people to thank someone or the fallen for the things they do/have done for them. This, to me, allowed for a personal element to the memorial and there were a lot of beautiful messages to both people’s chosen person and the fallen. This allowed for time to think and reflect on what the fallen have done for our country and what other people do for you every day. My Tartan Heart (Tartan, anything piece of our Scottish heritage I did not immediately think so) was of course dedicated to my mum. My mum (and dad) have done so much for me especially over the last few years I have been at university and I always think it is important to thank them.

The memorial really got me thinking as I had never seen any World War II Remembrance Memorial like this before. Although it has not really helped me understand the significance of teaching World War II as a standalone topic still, it has helped me to acknowledge that this is still an important issue in contemporary society.

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As a newfound big fan of the Scottish Museum, I thought this would be the perfect place to show Apshara a little bit more of Scotland and our heritage as a country. However, as a we got there quite late and they were closing from the top down, we never got to go to the ‘A Changing Nation’ section which I felt from my last trip here was the most relevant section to our lives and had the most information that would be interesting to Apshara.

However, this meant we went to a section of the Museum that Katie and I did not get to explore. Although we were only there for an hour and on top of the last trip, still did not feel like long enough. We went into the technology section on the ground and fifth floor which was purely for enjoyment and it was great fun. Stephanie had said previously ‘I am not sure I am going to enjoy a museum’ as I hyped up the place. This was the three of them after a great hour of fun!

Three clearly amused adults!

Stephanie’s parting words ‘this was great fun, we have to come back when it is fully open!’.

The clear enjoyment.

This comment alone only strengthened my opinion that although the museum is a huge place and there is a lot to do which makes it important, for the trip as a learning experience, to have a set area or task to focus on to keep control of the class and the experience. It is also important to allow children a chance to enjoy other sections that may interest them. These experiences, I feel from personal experience as a child on school trips, are what made me remember the trips and therefore the learning that took place. The fun and enjoyment as crucial parts to learning inside and out with the classroom but of course for risk assessments and health and safety especially outside need to be controlled by the teachers.

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The trip to Edinburgh as a whole was unexpectedly really worthwhile. It was a great stimulus for some serious thought into issues which are relevant to my current learning regarding social studies and an opportunity to broaden my own opinions and knowledge.

A Changing City.

Today, I drove from my parents house, where I have grown up for the last 21 years, in Portlethen through Aberdeen City to other other side of Aberdeenshire heading to Inverurie. Now although I have been to Inverurie before and out in this general direction, it is not a direction I usual travel in and an area of Aberdeenshire I am unfamiliar with.

Within the Social Studies Experiences and Outcomes, ‘local environment’ and ‘my/our community’ are reoccuring words throughout early to second level in the People, Place and Environment section (Scottish Government 2009, Pp. 6-11). However, as I have said in a previous blog post (Rennie, 2017a), I spent my summer this year, 2017, traveling Scotland seeing a variety of different landmarks and also traveling further such as New York, Paris, Berlin and Dublin. I have also spent the last three years, exploring a variety of different places in and around Dundee whilst I have been at university. The days I have spent exploring these various sites, such as Kirriemuir’s Neverland park (Rennie, 2017b), Crombie and Monikie Park (Rennie, 2017c), McManus Gallery (Rennie, 2017d) and Dundee in general (Rennie, 2017e), have been amongst my favourite days in Dundee. I always have a great day when I am out exploring somewhere new with friends. It has left me feeling very at home in Dundee but also as if I know more about Dundee than my home town lately.

This has left me with a wonderful sense of wanderlust and a desire to know more about our planet. On the other hand, it has meant I have neglected my home town. As I drove this route today, I realise how little I really knew about Aberdeen now. Aberdeen had been a city in which any kind of development never really occurred in as I grew up. As a city, we rejected new plans for the Union Terrace Gardens revival (BBC News, 2012) and have been waiting 17 years for a new football stadium (Say No to Kingsford Stadium, 2016), in my opinion, the place was slowly fading away due to the recession and Aberdonians’ unwillingness for change. Today, despite this, it is no longer the case. We still have not accepted plans for a new Union Terrace Gardens or football stadium but there is currently the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route development with sections slowly opening (Transport Scotland, 2017) and others well underway (Transport Scotland, No Date) and a new Exhibition and Conference Centre being built (Evolves, No Date).

On my way home from my course in Inverurie, I noticed as I drove along, there were so many tourist attraction signs for places I never even knew existed. I drove past them without even thinking until I past a sign for a Castle Trail. I thought to myself after passing it, that would have been very interesting for my social studies elective. In class, we had been looking at trails around the university campus in small groups, we were asked to create a trail. My group had opted to do a trail of places for relaxation or time out around the campus, we found places of nature such as the two university gardens or the mini bandstand gardens, the gym, the pool, the tennis courts and DUSA the union. Following this idea and to reconnect to my own home town, after passing the sign, I told myself I would stop at the next tourist attraction and look around.

Unsurprisingly with my luck, the only other tourist information on my route home, was a hotel. I am not sure this would have been of any interest to my social studies elective. Therefore, I decided once I was home and I still hadn’t been on any kind of trail or got to know my city any better that I would look into the castle trail sign that I had saw. Unknown to me, this castle trail took in all of the castles in Aberdeenshire. In 21 years, I had only visited 5 of the 18 on the trail (Visit Scotland, 2016). My favourite castle, Dunnottar Castle, was on this trail and I still had no idea it existed.

I felt adamant that I would not find another castle like Dunnottar, it is simply stunning scenery. However, I am ready to go and explore and see some more beautiful castles. Therefore, when I am home next weekend, I will go on a drive to one of the the other castles I have not seen on the trail to explore my city a little bit more. There will be another post, very soon, about my exploration and the castle I chose!

References:

BBC News (2012) Timeline: Aberdeen’s City Garden Project Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-19332252 (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Evolves (No Date) AECC Evolves Available at: http://www.aeccevolves.co.uk/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Rennie, K. (2017) A Summer of Scottish Studies Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2017/09/30/a-summer-of-scottish-studies/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Rennie, K. (2017b) Take Me to Neverland Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2017/01/21/take-me-to-neverland/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Rennie, K. (2017c) Take a Wonder Into The Woods Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2016/11/02/take-a-wonder-into-the-woods/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Rennie, K. (2017d) To Trip or Not To Trip: The McManus Gallery Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2016/10/21/to-trip-or-not-to-trip-the-mcmanus-gallery/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Rennie, K. (2017e) History and Literacy Outdoors! Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/krennieuodeportfolio/2015/12/03/history-and-literacy-outdoors/ (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

Say No to Kingsford Stadium (2016) Aberdeen FC and the ‘New Stadium’ – A History of Propaganda, Myth and Failure Available at: http://www.nokingsfordstadium.org.uk/2016/08/12/aberdeen-fc-and-the-new-stadium-a-history-of-propaganda-myth-and-failure/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Visit Scotland (2016) Scotland’s Castle Trail: Explore Aberdeenshire Available at: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/10248/scotlandscastletrail.pdf (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Scottish Government (2009) Curriculum for Excellence Social Studies Experiences and Outcomes Edinburgh: Scottish Government

Transport Scotland (2017) AWPR – New South Section Bridge Set to Open Permanently Available at https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/awpr-new-south-section-bridge-set-to-open-permanently/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Transport Scotland (No Date) Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route – Balmedie to Tipperty Available at: https://www.transport.gov.scot/projects/aberdeen-western-peripheral-route-balmedie-to-tipperty/aberdeen-western-peripheral-route-balmedie-to-tipperty/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

The Start of Another Placement

We have finally been given our third year placement schools. After having a fantastic last day at Claypotts Castle nursery, getting my third year school and nursery was a great excitement to be able to know I am going back into school so soon.

This excitement may have taken over a little bit as my desire to go and see the school quickly overcame my lack of motivation to proof read my assignment for the hundredth time. Before I knew it, I was in my car and off on a road trip to go and have a look at the area. I have driven past the signs on the dual carriage way for Kirriemuir countless times however I have never went in past and I knew nothing about the area. I knew that this was an area I need to develop my knowledge on for my placement folder. Therefore, I thought having a drive could do no harm.

I had a bit of a look around Kirriemuir itself. The setting is surrounded by the Angus Glen’s and one of the Cairngorm Mountain ranges. Kirriemuir is an absolutely gorgeous place and I can only hope that my school takes full potential of the setting they are in to develop their outdoor learning.

Just by chance on the way back to Dundee we drove through Kirriemuir town centre and there was a little Tourist Information centre which I thought may have some leaflets or information for me to further develop my knowledge of the town. The two ladies who worked in their could not have been more helpful, they allowed me to look around, take a selection of leaflets about Kirriemuir and Angus in general (as although I drive through it a lot, I did not know a lot about Angus either), and the ladies let me know that the are very accommodating to have classes come to the Tourist Information as they have a lot of resources to help. They were very excited that I had a primary 1 class as they do not often get ‘the little ones’ in to visit and it is normally just primary fours or primary sevens. This is something that I will be well aware of when I am on placement and if the children are learning about something relevant to the town that could spark a trip to the tourist centre then it would definitely be something I would suggest to the class teacher.

Overall, as my previous blog and this one has clearly shown I am so excited to get back into school. The transition project has greatly influenced my confidence and my (lack of) nerves going into this placement. It is one of the reasons I am ready to get back into school. If February could just hurry along, then that would be great!