Rebecca Laing Zammit Shares How Her Passion For Teaching Led Her To Write 'A Poppy For Pa'

October 20th, 2020

As a classroom teacher I understand the immense importance of our core subjects, English, Maths and Science. But I am highly passionate about teaching our youth today about our Australian History, the good, the bad and even the ugly, using language and visuals at an appropriate age level of course.

As a child I was very interested in our history. At an early Primary School age I’d watch year after year the older grades hold a ‘gold rush’ day at school where they’d dress in colonial clothing and play games from the 1800s and of course ‘dig’ for gold, and I couldn’t wait for it to be my turn. So, once I reached Upper Primary School that day never happened and to my dismay history was scrapped from our curriculum altogether, I was devastated!

10 years later after that disappointment of missing out on my ‘gold rush’, I became a teacher. In the classroom I tried to implement a history lesson every chance I could, especially around ANZAC day and Remembrance Day. I loved having the upper primary levels at this time of year, teaching them actual truths of what war would of looked like, felt like and even smelt like and seeing the looks on the students faces when confronted with the realisation of the devastation of war.

I wanted my book to reflect the trials and tribulations that Pa had during his times in the Gallipoli trenches so that children can try to understand the terror of war rather than seeing it as an act of glory. I want children to realise that our brave ANZACs were sometimes scared but by sticking together they got through unfavourable situations.

I assume that it’s from the connections of my family of why I have such a passion for our Australian history, and I am extremely happy that the subject was reinstated into our curriculum. The next challenge is to deliver the history content within the classroom that will keep our young students interested otherwise they won’t see the point of learning about our past. As they say, ‘we need to learn from our past, so we don’t make the same mistakes in our future.'
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