Ted's teaching tips

13th April 2001 at 01:00
Ah, the simple life of 60 years ago: the smell of newly mown hay, modest aspirations, the Dunkirk spirit. This picture looks dated to today's generation, but it was only their grandparents' era, and was it all jolly and bucolic?


Talk to, or think about, older people you know who lived in the 1940s.What sort of holidays did they have (probably in Britain, not abroad; often by the seaside in a guest house or caravan; low-cost, possibly self-catering)? How does that compare with today's holiday destinations (more people go to Spain, Italy, the United States, the Caribbean, exotic locations, for better weather; probably travel by air, not train; may take more than one holiday a year)? Has anyone in the class visited Benidorm, Majorca, other popular places abroad, and how do these compare with "traditional" British resorts such as Blackpool, Southend, Brighton, Skegness?


When was the Second World War (1939-1945)? How would life be different for these people (many goods were rationed - petrol, sweets, clothing, bread; shortage of fruits such as bananas and tomatoes, with greater use of tinned food and powdered egg and milk)? How was family life different (men away from home fighting; more women went out to work, often for the first time; fear of bombing raids, people had to go into shelters; houses blacked out at night; need to wear gas masks; children sometimes moved from their homes - evacuees - to live with another family in a safer place)?

Caravans P> Have you ever stayed in a caravan? Did you enjoy it? What is the difference between the caravan in the picture and a modern one (today's are more rectangular, glossy finish, more robust materials; much better fitted inside with fridge, television, cooker)? What other uses can you think of for mobile pods like this (offices, extra rooms, permanent homes)?


(a) Write a story about how some children go on holiday in an old caravan and then find it has magic properties, able to transport them to any place, any period in history. (b) Tell the story of the excitement this family feels when they are able to leave behind the dreariness and anxiety of a war-scarred city and go off on a holiday in the country.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

Talking points

Caravans are a menace, blocking the roads, causing accidents, polluting the atmosphere. Or are they?


Every summer, roads to holiday resorts are jammed by caravans. They cause danger to other road users. Fields overflow with them, spoiling the countryside. Cars have to expend more energy to tow them, so they exude even more noxious gases.


Caravan holidays are cheap, and most campsites are meticulous about litter and waste disposal. Most stay put once they have arrived, whereas cars often tour. For some families it is the only way they can afford a holiday - self-catering, entertaining themselves with others. It's a harmless and sociable pastime.

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