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Posts Tagged ‘Colonial Williamsburg’




Happy Historical Holidays!

Written on Thursday, December 25th, 2008 [permanent link]

Here you go: historical comic book artist, costumed son and DRAGON!!! This is right after one of this month’s holiday puppet shows that my youngest, Truman, did at Colonial Williamsburg’s Geddy House, just off the green that runs up to the Governor’s Palace.

It’s a great way to grow up, walking in the footsteps of kids from across hundreds of years. Truman got to be the dragon in a holiday production of the St. George and the Dragon folk tale. This was his first year as a costumed junior interpreter at the Geddy, and I could not be more proud of him! I’ve learned a lot about the Colonial era from the time both my sons have spent as junior interpreters.

When I started drawing the daily Chester the Crab history strips for the Daily Press in 1999, my oldest son, Samuel, was as old as the target school audience. (And he was attending the elementary school next to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area about the same time that a Geddy descendant did!) So Samuel got to be a character moving through time and learning with Chester. But now, a decade later, Truman’s patience has paid off – all the new stuff I’m drawing features HIM! I’m working on a Colonial Williamsburg comic right now that features Truman and his personality in this garb! It’s great to have your historical character so close . . .

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Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute groupie

Written on Sunday, July 27th, 2008 [permanent link]

Teachers at Jamestown

Finally, after four days of me trailing after them from Jamestown to the slave cabin at Colonial Williamsburg to the taverns to the costume shop, one of the teachers said, “Honestly, who would follow after a bunch of social studies teachers?!”

Me. I’m a hardcore groupie! I love hanging with those who think it’s important to teach the next generation about the highpoints and problems and vital choices of our past. I think it will affect our future.

I’ve worked with Colonial Williamsburg staffers in many ways since I moved here in 1992, but it was still a welcome surprise when CW invited me to spend a week shadowing one session of their summer Teacher Institute. For almost two decades, CW has given master teachers a chance to renew their knowledge of Colonial times and pick up new tricks for making history vital. They bring in about 600 every year from across the country, many of them paid for by donors in their home state. I jumped at the chance.

I did learn some new things myself and corrected some misconceptions that had creeped in to my own knowledge base. But mostly it was just fun to see these folks from Texas and California and Wisconsin and Washington play around the Historic Triangle — they acted like it was history teacher Disneyland. One woman had spent time in Virginia as a girl in segregated days and was happy to see the story of slavery portrayed so well at Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg. One woman had worked summer school in her Florida district so she could pay for this and make it a vacation with her daughter, who also teaches. Many had never been to Colonial Williamsburg and were awestruck at the detail this place offers. At the end of the week one young teacher said, “I can’t WAIT to get back and NOT use my textbook!”

What can I say, I’m a history geek. Yes, yes, it’s good business for me to hang with them — these 29 teachers found my comix in the various gift shops around town and went nuts for them, but that’s not why I did this. My interest in education and history and kids is so strong that the transition between all the hats I now wear feels seamless to me. Often during the week I would pivot in an instant from being student to being a teacher of history. But it’s ALL advocacy!

Send me a message or post to this note if you’d like more details on what I saw and did with the Teacher Institute! You can also find official info on CW’s website: www.history.org/history/teaching/tchsti.cfm

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Dialogue in Democracy

Written on Monday, December 3rd, 2007 [permanent link]

You know a forum on democracy is cool when they include the cartoonists! A few weeks ago PBS gathered about 50 American leaders to Colonial Williamsburg to debate a 21st Century description of American citizenship. Mixed in with the founder of the online Craigslist and the mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, was Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Mike Ramirez and Kansas comic book publisher Alonzo Washington. I wasn’t there as a cartoonist but as a reporter for the Daily Press, where I have worked to varying degrees since 1992.

The three days put air under my feet and ideas in my head. Democracy matters! And these people practiced it with great care and vigor. Sometimes it got heated as they discussed immigration and health care and service to the larger community, but they also did the one thing that seems to be a vanishing skill in our loud media society: they listened to each other.

We live in an age when opinion is bursting out all over, thanks to cell phones and blogs. We’re yakking and yakking. But democracy happens only when we listen and then decide in a group way which is the favored solution to the problem at hand. Some people aiding this conference are pushing hard to exercise democracy in this new century. This session at Colonial Williamsburg will air on PBS early in 2008, but if you or your civics students want to read about it now check out

www.pbs.org/newshour/btp/did2007.html

Extra credit: check out the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University. Prof. James Fishkin has a new way of political polling that involves online debate and Q-and-A with experts, and he told this CW session that the numbers are clear: the more people learn and study an issue, the more their opinions change! It’s exciting stuff to realize that we the people CAN have the power!

cdd.stanford.edu/

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