Windsor teacher uses D-Day to teach current affairs

A teacher at Ecole Secondaire Catholique E.J. Lajeunesse folds a Hollywood movie and current events into her D-Day history lessons.

A teacher at Ecole Secondaire Catholique E.J. Lajeunesse uses a Hollywood movie and current events into her D-Day history lessons.

Danielle Parent said the D-Day anniversary gives her a chance to make the past come alive for her students.

She uses the opening scenes to Saving Private Ryan, a Hollywood blockbuster about the 1944 invasion that features gory special effects, to capture the attention of her classes.

"I always remind them how they (the soldiers) had to move forward regardless of what was happening right next to them. Your best friend might have been right next to you and dropped. And you can't stop you got to keep going," she said.

The D-Day lessons are not lost on grade 10 student Ali Samhat. He called the invasion scene in the movie frightening.

"The movie looked as real as it could possibly get. It was scary just to look at. And I'm thinking people actually survived that. I couldn't imagine participating in it in real life," Samhat said.

Parent, who lost one great uncle in World War 2 and had several others seriously injured, said she warns students before showing the movie's opening segments. But, for the lessons about war to sink in, she said it's worthwhile making some students uncomfortable.

She also tries to use D-Day as a way to bring conflict back to more current events.

"This is a very, very multicultural school. I like to find out what country they are from, or what country their parents are from, so I can try and do a little bit of research and make a link," Parent said. She gave the example of linking conflict in Afghanistan to the Cold War, and from there to World War 2 and D-Day.

"So it can make it a little more real, and realist, in their minds," she said.

Samhat agrees.

"D-Day is in the history, in the past, and there's nothing we can really do about it. Except for remember. But Afghanistan hits me more, because it's happening right now," he said.

But Samhat also admits to feeling in awe of the soldiers - who weren't much older than he is right now - who landed on those Normandy beaches.

"I wouldn't be able to do that," he said.