One of the things I enjoy the most about what we are doing at Saint David's is thinking outside the box. The classroom can sometimes be a box. It is true that often our access to virtual technology tools allow us to go beyond the walls of the classroom in a virtual sense, and we do do that often at Saint David's. The danger in today's world, however, is that we can believe that this experience is equivalent to the real thing. It isn't. A satisfactory substitute at best, the virtual can never fully replace the real.
I was reminded of this in Rome and Florence recently traveling with the 8th grade. Standing in front of an ancient artifact, a Renaissance sculpture, or a Medieval painting, and letting it speak to you, surrounded by its cultural context is a remarkable, real experience--that's why we take the boys to Rome, Assisi and Florence as a culminating learning experience after a year of intense study in the art and history of the Renaissance. It's also why we now take rising 8th graders to Salamanca, Spain for total language and cultural immersion, and its why we take 7th graders to Cape Cod, and the 6th graders to Washington, DC and it's why we have newly partnered with the New York Historical Society to develop a unit of study centered around the 2nd grade's study of the American Revolution and the founding of the nation.
After a significant amount of planning, a teaching artist from the New York Historical Society will be working in collaboration with our teachers and the 2nd Grade boys to enrich the boys' understanding of this time period. Today, I joined some 2nd graders as they touched and critically observed and examined artifacts from the era, including a Powder Horn, Musket Balls and a Horse Hair Brush and Pick (all pictured herein in the hands of inquisitive, excited 2nd graders). They had a thousand questions for the expert.
In the coming sessions of this new collaboration, utilizing the expertise and resources of the Society, the boys will come to learn and understand how printmaking allowed information to be more easily distributed and disseminated, and how it contributed to the development of the new nation. They will also create symbols and images of the Revolution, including the creation of their own "Kerchiefs."
In this case it wasn't possible to go there--to escape the box--so they came here. Either way, its more real!