Reproduction of Martha Custis (Washington's) Wedding Shoes (photo by author)
I would love to have you along for the ride this summer as I share resources, lesson plans, and reflections on working at Mount Vernon and the Fred W. Smith library.
"Plan a Breakout game! It's the perfect way to practice and assess." That's what the angel on my shoulder told me as I pondered what to do.Turns out that angel was a little wicked, because it only told me half the story. Asking students to plan a BreakoutEDU game is an incredible way for them to review material and for me to see what they do and do not know. It's also a logistical nightmare!
Unlike textbooks and documentaries, places force a person to adjust. Modern bodies are often out of sorts with historic stairs, ceiling heights, and furniture. Add unpredictable temperatures and smells and the experience intensifies. Put historic tools or objects in someone's hands and ask them to complete a task and watch what happens. I teach history with place because it forces change.
There are two fences off the main entrance of the main house at Mount Vernon. Beyond those fences is where the work of Mount Vernon happened and where the human engine of the estate operated. It was a powerful experience to stand there and imagine the lives on both sides of the fences: master and slave. Of course we know about the abstract differences and separation between black and white, but place also teaches about the physical separation. I teach history with place because it defines abstract ideas.
Historic Deerfield provides a rich educational service and excels at maintaining historical properties. They also know how to continually attract people to Deerfield, Mass. However, that door in Memorial Hall told me more about the Deerfield Raid than an entire day just walking through town. Objects and place combined to tell the story of an event from both sides. The home on the other side of that door was a fortress and an obstacle. I teach history with place because it teaches perspective.