Learning from the past
IT WAS meant to be an academic research project looking at the portrayal of the Anzac legend in New Zealand schools.
And to start off Carol Mutch was knee-deep in glory and pride for the mother country.
But then the story turned into something far more personal.
The head of critical studies in education at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education uncovered a journey into her family history which led her right to Gallipoli.
She’ll attend the 100th Anzac Day commemorations in Turkey with her son.
At the forefront of their minds will be a great uncle they never knew they had until recently.
Samuel Gurden was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915.
‘‘I was doing this research project but I had no real connection to Gallipoli or to the men,’’ the Three Kings resident says. ‘‘My son will be 23 when we go. ‘‘Great uncle Samuel was a bit older than that but still a young man in his 20s when his life was absolutely cut short.’’
Mutch says learning about Gurden and his efforts in the war has added an emotional layer to her research.
She started on the project more than two years ago with Christchurch historian Sarah Christie.
The two researchers are using the School Journal to look at how educational materials have shaped young people’s thinking about the Anzacs.
‘‘It is the start of the good Kiwi bloke,’’ Mutch says.
‘‘They did seem to represent what we pride ourselves in; giving everything a go and never giving up, being prepared to break the conventions to achieve our goals, and problem-solving with number eight wire.’’
She says over the years though the portrayal of war has completely changed.
‘‘Now we know how Gallipoli campaign was.
‘‘We know that there was almost a mutual respect between the Anzacs and the Turks even though at the end of the day they had to shoot each other.’’
Mutch says in her own experience
futile the teaching about war is like walking a tightrope.
‘‘I don’t think that we address the horror of war.
‘‘What we teach is very much about this culture of remembrance and pride.’’
Recent school projects like pairing students up with veterans give children a fuller understanding of the realities of conflict, she says.
Using the journal to examine this change wasn’t as easy as first thought.
Copies printed before 1980 were not available online, and it was difficult to trace physical copies of the journal during World War I.
A nationwide search ensued, only for the most complete set of the journals to be found on the same campus.
Mutch says the journals were too delicate to simply photocopy and were sent to the university’s city campus where a state-of-the-art scanning machine was used to carefully and slowly scan every edition.
So far Mutch’s assistants have scanned the journals and summarised key articles up to the 1940s, while a team in Christchurch have worked backwards from the 1980s. They are creating a database which they hope the public will be able to use as a study aid in the future.
Three Kings resident Carol Mutch is headed to Gallipoli to commemorate the centenary of the Anzac landings.