During one particular prose lesson dedicated to the fantastic novel of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis, a group of enthusiastic Senor 1 girls came up with the bright idea of asking us teachers of English for the planning of a possible school outing linked to what they were studying as the background to this much loved novel.
Since the historical background to the novel is based on Second World War history and mostly on children evacuees evacuating from the Blitz in London, we thought of encouraging the girls to observe what WW2 resources and sites we had locally available on our island. The idea of extending a Literature experience out of the classroom scenario and immersing the girls into a fun packed morning dedicated to literature with a good dose of history, did the trick!
A couple of emails and telephone exchanges later, and everything was settled and booked for Monday the 14th of November. On the much awaited morning, the girls were each handed an informative booklet with a welcome message, a detailed plan of their morning excursion, extended writing activities and mini book reviews from books based on the topic of children evacuees which are also present in our school library for the students to borrow. The plan was for us to accompany the girls down to the Ferries in Sliema to catch the 8:45am ferry boat to Valletta and to walk up to the Malta 5D show in Old Bakery street for our 9:20am movie. At Malta 5D, our girls had the opportunity to experience more of an in-depth idea of our Maltese history with particular emphasis on the heavy impact the Second World War left on our Maltese islands. The girls had a wonderful time in the 5D theatre itself, as they excitedly got to wear their bulky 3D glasses and sat down on special seats fitted with the latest technology features to complement their enjoyable visit.
We then eagerly walked along with the girls through Republic street and sat down on the steps at the foot of St. John’s co-Cathedral for a short lunch break. Our trackless train was already set and waiting close by and as soon as the girls were ready to proceed on to their next activity, they all boarded the train, excitedly waiting for what was in store on their ride around Valletta. The trackless train ride in Valletta is in itself a very interesting educational excursion and despite the fact that at the time of our ride we faced quite a rainy shower, the girls still enjoyed listening to the very informative audio recording which gave us detailed information on a number of historical sites around our city.
Once the trackless train ride came to an end, we gradually made our way to Lascaris War rooms situated just below the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Despite the ongoing rainy day, the suddenly unpleasant weather did not dampen our spirits and we eagerly followed our curator down a long underground tunnel towards the entrance to our next site. The walk through the tunnel allowed us to admire the remarkably fitted articles and large black and white photos of WW2 soldiers, which somehow led the girls to imagine that they were really stepping back into history…back in the early 1940s. The girls were then led through an exceptionally interesting tour of the War rooms and they were also offered an opportunity to ask questions and also to describe any small anecdotes shared with them from their own elderly relatives who might have experienced wartime at some point in their childhood.
Our morning adventure gradually came to an end at around midday, when our school coach was waiting for us next to the War monument in Floriana. Both our students and us educators had a great morning. The idea of immersing the students into the whole WW2 context successfully proved that literature can still be brought to life and does definitely not need to remain on the pages of a novel.
Ms Margaret Vella
Ms Caroline Pullicino
Ms Stephanie Gatt