None of the Above is a “short sheet” I am writing/publishing which connects in many ways with the pedagogical philosophy I use here at DEMOI. You can read it/follow it here:
Last Friday I visited the Amherstburg Freedom Museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad and the history of the black communities of Essex County.
I highly recommend making the trip if you can. In addition to a preserved cabin built by a freeman in the 1850s, the museum site also has an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church built in 1848 and which served as a terminus of the Underground Railroad. The museum features an art gallery and exhibit complete with artifacts and narratives of the Railroad, the slave trade and the connection between Ontario and Canada and the institution of slavery. https://amherstburgfreedom.org
Pleased to share a podcast discussion I took part in at the Central Branch of London Library last Monday evening (January 15th, 2018):
It was delightful to be a part of this discussion.
Audio to follow shortly . . . .
Yesterday I had the privilege of guest teaching a course entitled “Historians, Communities and the Past” which is taught by my good friend Tim Compeau, PhD at Huron University College here in London.
Over the course of 90 minutes we engaged in a Socratic discussion about the question: “Is it responsible to allow grade school children the option of self-directed learning in the field of history?”
The conversation was very engaging in no small part because we reflected on whether one of the chief problems in educating children and young adults is that educators, policymakers, teachers and parents become focused upon names and disciplinary boundaries at the expense of allowing for interdisciplinary discovery, exploration and problem-driven learning. Or, to put it another way: at the expense of creativity.
Here is a scenario:
Imagine an 8 year old student who has become fascinated by schools; she is interested in the schools built by pioneers and how people in earlier times were educated -especially in rural and remote communities- in one room school houses. She decides that she wants to learn everything that she can about one room school houses. After talking with her teacher and her parents, she decides that she wants to undertake a project (independent study) to learn everything that she can about how one room school houses came to be; where they were pioneered; why they have persisted; how they work. She visits museum exhibits, watches movies, reads books and even talks with people who have knowledge of, or personal experience with, being educated in one room school house environments. She is then allowed to undertake her project.
To my mind, a series of questions arises from this hypothetical:
1.) If this project were a school project, what discipline would this child be studying? Do we simply call it social studies, or can we say it is history, sociology, education and economics?
2) Can this project be accommodated as a primary/elementary school classroom project?
3.) Is a teacher/student relationship required here?
4.) If we do not allow the child to undertake this study are we hindering her education?
5.) Is it inconceivable that an 8 year old child could do this or have a desire to do this?
6.) Is this student actually developing an interest in sociology, education and economics (as well as history) by her choice of this project? Does subject (academic discipline) in the conventional sense even matter in this case?
As you might imagine, this type of scenario prompted much discussion. I leave it to you to decide how you might answer these questions or think about this matter.
I learned this morning that my poem “Message from Bongo Brown,” will likely appear this coming week over at The Blue Nib. I welcome this news because this poem and some of its siblings, have bedevilled me. By that I mean, it has been exceedingly difficult to find a home for them.
By no means do I expect that any periodical should publish my work: that would be foolish in the extreme. What has been puzzling to me is where a writer who writes about history, socio-economic and ecological-cultural change should send his/her poetry. The market for poetry, as per my limited understanding, does not seem at all geared toward poetry of the style or substance which I find myself writing. Now, this could be the lament of someone who is simply struggling as most writers struggle; so take what I say with a grain of salt. I certainly do. But I have been searching for a proper home for a body of my work which focuses especially on the history of Detroit, Michigan. Therefore, this morning’s news was encouraging.
When the poem appears I will link it here.
I had a tremendously positive experience conducting research at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University this past Thursday.
Detroit has some tremendous educational and cultural resources, especially in/around the Wayne State campus. Not only is the glorious Detroit Institute of the Arts located there, but so is the Detroit Public Library Main Branch (built in the 1860s), the Detroit Historical Society & Museum, the Michigan Science Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the libraries of Wayne State University.
This is a tremendous resource that is actually easier to get to (from London) than the museums of downtown Toronto (quicker & with better parking). I don’t know how many people know of these institutions, but I would suggest checking them out. The atmosphere around the university campus is lovely and there is good eating, too.