Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Great Idea, Great Story

This article appeared in today's Times. It's about students learning more through living history i.e. talking to people who lived through a period in time (in this case the civil rights movement). From the article:

"The Rev. Samuel McKinney, pastor emeritus of the predominantly African-American Mount Zion Baptist Church, quickly takes them back to a Seattle in which blacks could work in department stores only if they weren't visible to customers, a city in which lending practices and prejudice restricted them to housing in a few segregated neighborhoods.

Instead of learning history in a classroom, the two students, Nicole Czubin and Elena Feldman, are hearing the stories of living witnesses in the places where history was made.

The yearlong program, sponsored by the Seattle nonprofit Museum Without Walls, brings together 10 suburban and 10 inner-city students to learn about the civil-rights movement both locally and nationally.

In June, the students traveled to three Southern states. They stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated 40 years ago in Memphis, Tenn. They saw the fading bloodstains in the carport in Jackson, Miss., where NAACP leader Medgar Evers was gunned down.

They learn about social activism and how students like themselves led a movement to end segregation and racial intolerance."

This program is for students from Franklin and Mercer High Schools by Museum without Walls.

The program also points out an important fact; that many who lived through the Holocaust, civil rights movement and WWII are, literally, a dying breed.


hschinske said...

That sounds fabulous. One of the most valuable experiences I had in middle school (indeed, one of about three parts of public middle school that I can think of with any pleasure) was a unit on the Japanese internment camps during World War II. My school had one teacher who had been interned (I'm sorry I can't remember his name) who came and talked to the class, and another teacher, Gary Higashi, who had been born in a camp but was too young to remember it himself.

Helen Schinske

Beth Bakeman said...

I heard that Bainbridge Island schools had a similar project, involving interviewing area residents who had been in the Japanese internment camps.

But they dropped it from the curriculum recently....to focus on things that would raise the WASL scores.

It's enough to make me crazy.

anonymous said...

Yes, this certainly sounds like a fabulous opportunity. My children have grandparents who lived with the racism, prejudice and injustice of the deep south. And they lived through the civil rights movement. They are hesitant to talk about those terrible times, but with a little coaxing and few questions from the children, they tell their stories, which are invaluable to us.

Hearing from people who have lived through an era is invaluable, as is hands on learning, internships, etc. My son will be spending a week in Olympia as a page next year (8th grade). I can't tell you how excited he is!!!