Jim McGonigle reviews the winning book - Scotland and the Second World War.
Hodder and Stoughton is to be commended for publishing this book which gives a distinctly Scottish angle on the popular topic of the Second World War. Any history department offering this unit of work would be well advised to order an inspection copy, at the very least.
The text covers aspects from the reasons for war in 1939, through evacuation, the impact of rationing and the effects on education, to the role of the Scots soldier in Europe and the Far East - at last Scottish examples from the Second World War. It is lavishly illustrated and contains a wealth of source material, both textual and pictorial, a useful time-line and photo-copiable map.
The aim of the book is to support the 5-14 environmental studies curriculum on "people in the past", fitting into the historical era of the 20th century. Given the level of language used, it is best suited to the Primary 7 to Secondary 2 stage. There are set exercises which allow pupils to demonstrate an understanding of cause and effect and to develop an appreciation of the nature of historical evidence. It is good to see these in the Scottish context rather than the all-pervasive "key stage" approach that many textbooks offer.
Given the wealth of source material to draw upon, the book would enable departments to undertake an area of enquiry and allow a wide choice for pupils at levels D and E to select from, for example, the Home Front, the Scottish soldier, education in wartime and so on. It could also be used to develop a link study between primary schools and their associated secondaries, thereby enabling history departments to demonstrate continuity and progression.
The book aims to help pupils understand the effects of the war on Scotland and how and why life changed during the war and afterwards. The S2 pupils I have used it with found it stimulating and they wanted to keep on reading. What greater praise can there be?
Jim McGonigle is principal teacher for history at Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh.