Ryan Wilson, IS10a
This interdisciplinary unit of work has really improved and positively affected my subject specific understanding of the First World War, from both a History and an English perspective. The combination of both subjects together has lead to me having a better understanding because they link very well together and by looking at thing from the two different perspectives, it gives a more well rounded perspective of things. The topic that my group and I focused on for this unit of work was the developments of weaponry during the first world war and the links between both English and history really gave us a better insight as to the impact of the new developments in weapons. In regards to this, I feel like the English aspect helped out a lot with really putting the devastation of the weapons into a context that I could not have gotten out of the history facts and figured that I had learned. Things such as the poems written on the front line really helped me to really understand what affects the different weapons were actually having on the men that were fighting in the trenches during the war. Just from reading the numbers of people that were dying, etc. it alone was not enough for me to really grasp what devastating impacts these newly developed weapons had on warfare during the First World War. Looking at the literary devices and structure of the poems that the group chose to analyze, this really helped my knowledge within the subject of English and enriched what I already knew about the topics. However on the other hand the history aspect helped provide a lot of background information about the different weapons that really allowed me to understand a lot better, what was actually going on in the different poems that my group and I looked at during the unit.
There are almost only benefits that I can think of regarding studying the First World War from these two perspectives (History and English). I believe that by looking at the war from these two perspectives, I was able to acquire the best understanding possible, compared to studying it from different perspectives. Looking at WW1 from a history and English perspective allowed me to go into a lot of detail during my research and acquire a lot of information regarding my chosen topic. If I did the same thing with different subjects, I strongly believe I would not have been able to obtain as helpful information as I was able to. The biggest benefit of the English perspective was the fact that it allowed me to see what the affects of the weapons were like from the eyes of the people using them and being victimized by them on the front lines. The biggest benefit of the history perspective during this unit was learning about the different individual weapons and how they changed and developed during the war, also about who used them and what impact they had on the war as a whole. The history aspect of this unit was really the backbone of it all because it provided us with all of the necessary information that we needed, the English aspect improved and added a lot of perspective to that factual information which was really beneficial. An obvious drawback would be that by being limited to only two perspectives, there is always going to be some information no acquired. There are many different ways that you can look at the First World War and by limiting the unit to only history and English, there are many different topics and such that will have been left out as a result. Another limitation of this interdisciplinary unit was the fact that the history perspective was much more heavily weighed upon throughout my group’s research than the English. The majority of the information obtained was related to history compared to that of English and the main reason behind this is simply because there are a lot more historical sources compared to ones related to the English aspect of things, in my case weaponry.
The subject lessons have been one of the most helpful ways that I have gained a lot of interdisciplinary understanding. The main reason why this is the case is because both teachers from each subject have been extremely good at explaining various links between the English and History elements during our in class activities. Personally, regarding my topic they helped me especially with how to connect elements of English into the History side of things because I struggled with this at first. I was not sure which English elements to include and how to include them well though they both explained various different ways that I could link both subjects together well and efficiently, this guidance was a heavy contributor to my interdisciplinary understanding during this unit. Another way that the subject lessons were very helpful was that in both classes we sometimes studies the same elements of the war but from the different perspectives of each class. An example of this was propaganda, we looked at this in both classes but in English we focused on it more from a literary side and in history more on the impact it had. Due to us looking at this and several other topics in both classes, it really allowed me to link connections together between both English and History.
The excursion to Ypres played somewhat of a role in the development of my interdisciplinary understanding, thought a lot of what I learned, I acquired myself through research and the analysing of various different media. What Ypres really provided me with that was extremely beneficial to my understanding of the war was all of the contextual and background information that I gained from the tour guides and the museums that we visited. It served as a good starting point for me to continue my task specific research upon and further my knowledge. Also during the excursion I was able to really see a lot of things first hand that I would not have been able to do otherwise, although they were not extremely related to my topic of weapons (the majority of the time) they still really helped me understand the war to a much greater extent. What I found limited about Ypres, was finding information regarding my topic of developments in weaponry. On the first day we visited a museum that contained a lot of useful information and primary sources that we documented and used for our research, however apart from that there was not much else that helped us to investigate our topic. That is why most of my group’s topic information, we had to acquire through Internet research. Overall I believe that Ypres was beneficial to my understanding of the First World War and had I not been part of the excursion, I really feel like I would have missed out on a great and educational experience. My overall understanding of the war would not have been the same as it is now, due to the fact that I was able to view many of the places that were significant to the war and really feel more connected to the events that took place.
In conclusion I believe that this unit of work was extremely beneficial due to it being part of and interdisciplinary unit. Looking at the topic from two different perspectives allowed me to get a lot ore out of the task than I normally would have, had it only been in relation to one subject. Not only that but also many of the experiences I took part in, such as going to Ypres, helped greatly with my overall understanding of the First World War.