Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day #3 of training

So today was my third day of training for the new gig. I've been driving down to the Hyatt Regency each morning and hanging there from 7:30-5:30 each day this week. The contingent of attendees is almost 95% New Yawker, which has been fun. They've been surprisingly big-hearted about learning Baltimore history. This despite the fact that many are in mourning over various sudden significant deaths in Yankees history.

Today we continued experiencing what it's like to be a student in an Expeditionary Learning school. We read more materials regarding the Great Strike of 1877, learning on our own and even using primary sources (letters of John Work Garrett). Yesterday we had a panel of experts present B'more City and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad history. The panel included the director of the B&O Museum, a consultant to all the local City Museums, a history teacher who worked in B'more City for 39 years, and one of the co-authors of The Baltimore Rowhouse. We're exploring many causes of the Great Strike: sociological, economic, and political, and we're going to focus a bit on immigration as well. The end products of our work will be elaborate visual Concept Maps about the causes of the strike and a Poem for Two Voices featuring two POVs of the strike. For our Concept Map I'm drawing a visual of John Work Garrett piloting a roaring steam engine toward a woman bound on the tracks. The woman is chained by shackles labeled: low wages, dangerous working conditions, long hours, economic depression. There are soldiers to one side and striking workers to the other. Let's just say I'm by far the best artist in my group on this project, and I'm by no means an artist.

I'm working with a school principal from Ohio on the poem: we've created a pair of oyster cannery employees, one of whom is a labor agitator, and the other a member of the Maryland Sixth Regiment. At the beginning of the poem they work side-by-side, but each has a different sense of duty once the calamity starts. At the end they'll have to work together again, after the shootings and brick-throwing.

I'm gaining more confidence re: teaching social studies, and the more I hang out with the social studies and history teachers, the more I realize I'm fairly well versed; I need more specific knowledge to fill in some general swaths of understanding, but I think I'll be fine this fall.

Tomorrow we're walking as a group from the Hyatt up to the B&O Museum, and thence to visit some preserved alley houses formerly inhabited by Irish immigrant employees of the railroad. I'm hoping to convince the facilitators to allow us a side trip to Poe's grave, but doubt it will happen. Nobody will be in the mood to walk a bit out of the way in 100 degree heat!

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