One hundred and thirty years of history
“I believe that many, perhaps most, of you will reach the age of ninety. Despite the present times, life expectancy is increasing and by the end of this century it will be ninety or more. That means at the turn of the century, in the year 2100, you will be alive and well and you will be living in a world which will be unimaginably different from the world we live in now.
”In 2100, you will look back eighty years and you will remember this day, you will remember the day when the school year finished on the 20th March.
”Today is the spring equinox. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has told us that the tide should be turned in twelve weeks’ time. This means that by the summer solstice in thirteen weeks’ time, things should be getting better.
“We have one season to get through. We don’t know what is going to happen, but by the summer, there will be better times.
”You will have schoolwork to to do, it will be posted online, but I want you to do something else, not for me, but for yourselves. I want you to write your own diaries for the coming weeks. I want you to write down the things that you see and hear and think.
”If you write down your diary of the times of the coronavirus, you will be able to tell your grandchildren that you lived through these times.
“1940 is eighty years ago and the most fascinating stories from those times are not the ones in the history books, they are the stories that ordinary people wrote down about the things that had happened in their own lives.
“I want you to be like the people from 1940 whose stories that we can read now. I want you to write your own stories so that in eighty years people will be able to read them. Your grandchildren will be able to ask you, “what was it really like in 2020?”
My Year 7 tutor group looked bemused. Some looked unsure of what was being asked of them; some looked at me as if I were eccentric, others; a few seemed interested in the idea. “Sir, what will we write?”
One boy, who had been sitting deep in thought, looked up. “Sir, do you remember the Moon landing?”
“I do. I was eight. I was allowed to come downstairs from my bedroom to watch it on our black and white television.”
He pondered the answer. Perhaps in eighty years’ time he will tell his children of his teacher who had told him about a moment a long time ago.
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