Rural Schools Discover |
New History and Skills
WAKEFIELD, Neb. (ANS) -- Teachers at rural schools once depended on local resources out of necessity. Today's rural educators are doing it by choice.
Students at the Community School of Wakefield (pop. 1,100) are learning that while technology has opened up their world, the history, people, and buildings of their own communities are also important learning tools.
Wakefield is one of several dozen schools across the country participating during March in The Annenburg Rural Challenge, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education aimed at strengthening rural schools and promoting community-school integration.
Principal Jeanne Surface says at Wakefield the challenge will include a week-long workshop where local people are invited to demonstrate their skills and pass on knowledge to students. Artisans will teach children folk art, quilters will share stitching techniques and stories and traditional dances brought to the town by immigrants from Sweden, Germany, and more recently Mexico, will be passed on to the next generation.
In a longer term project, students in art teacher Kirby Mousel's classes will learn about community history and American architecture by "adopting" local buildings of various historical styles. Using town records and newspaper archives, students will research the lives of carpenters and architects who created the buildings, visit a brick factory and lumber yard which produced building materials, and trace the history of buildings' tenants to the present.
This spring, some students will share what they've learned by serving as guides on bus tours of the town they've organized for residents. Student drawings and paintings of the buildings will be reproduced in a calendar to be marketed with help from the school's business teacher.
Mousel says the community's small size and remote location have been an asset, not a hindrance. "Since we began, teachers are more aware of the resources that the community has to offer," he said. "It's opened everyone's eyes. It's a good process for everyone."
Posted: May 26, 1998