A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Artwork of the Week for May 30, 2012



2005Bret PriceBorn: Palo Alto, California 1950painted steel with chromed aluminum base27 1/8 x 23 1/2 x 6 1/4 in. (68.8 x 59.8 x 15.8 cm)Smithsonian American Art MuseumGift of the James F. Dicke Family in honor of George Gurney2011.41Smithsonian American Art Museum
This is a new piece at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. What do you think

An Olympian lost to the weeds and weather

Sol Butler, Olympian

What you can't see is the relief of a runner on his headstone.

Sol's sister, Josephine, was responsible for his interment in Maple Grove. She was also a college educated nurse, an impressive acheivement for an African American woman in the 1910s and 1920s.

I know I promised you Civil War Wichita, but this story is cool, trust me. The man who took me around the cemetery on Monday really wanted to show me this one. I'm glad he did. Solomon Butler was an athletic prodigy. He won all of the biggest meets in the nation and was a favorite at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. An injury at the Games tragically ended his career and he would be later shot on the South-side of Chicago while working as a bouncer in 1954. His sister lived in Wichita and brought him home to be buried. Josephine Butler was impressive in her own right. She was a college educated nurse in the Wichita medical community in the 1950s when her brother died. One story goes that they were the children of  freed slaves which is possible but, given their birth years, their parents would probably have been the first generation of free blacks. Still, little more than a generation after emancipation and in the middle of Jim Crow, the Butler children both attended college; one graduating from nursing school and the other an Olympian. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

When the teacher gets taught ... Memorial Day edition

I received an early and unexpected birthday present from my sons today. While they were serving at a local cemetery with their scout troop, an older man and I started chatting about Wichita history. He was the son of a former director of the cemetery and asked me if I wanted a tour. YES!!! Over the next couple of days I'll post pictures and text but will start with ones I'm especially proud of. Above this text are pictures of my son and his scout troop getting ready to raise the flag at the Civil War Memorial. Made his father proud. (BTW-The early present was the extra hour they served while I received my tour.)

The director's son (and I apologize, he offered his name, but I didn't write it down so it is lost to history) showed me this stone and pointed out that people put on the marker what they want to be remembered for. So Mr. Dunbar wanted to be remembered as member of Woodmen of the World and for his Civil War service-but there is more to be remembered.

The next thing you see is that we was held captive at Andersonville Prison for almost a year, until it was liberated. Andersonville Prison is the most infamous of all Civil War prisons. Initially designed for 10,000 prisoners, it ballooned to more than 33,000 by the end of the war. In the 15 months it existed, Anderson saw more than 13,000 soldiers die in prison. That he survived says something of Private Dunbar's resilience. The link below takes you to the a great site about Andersonville.

Pvt. Dunbar snatched a memento at Andersonville, this fragment of a building, which he donated to the Cemetery in the late 1890s. I wonder if this is his building or the main building or the hospital ... or ...

I've driven by this cemetery for 20+ years and didn't know about this. On a day where we honor our fallen-this was gift. I was born on Memorial Day and served in the military and so have been smitten with war cemeteries for a long time-so, again a gift. I also learnt of it with my sons-an even better gift.

Up next ... Mentholated Vapor Rub, 1000+ soldiers and the man who guarded Lincoln.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Who's doing a favor for who?"

This is a video using Lady Gaga's Bad Romance in contect of women's suffrage. Love it! (Has nothing to do witih the post but ...)

The summer is an odd time for a teacher. We are on hiatus but not really on hiatus. For those who say we only work nine months of the year I would say that is almost correct and not correct at all. Summer is a change in rhythm. Think of it like a marathon runner inbetween races or an actor in between gigs. The 13 weeks off gives us a chance to look at the past year, take a breath and prepare for the next one.

So this summer, I will offer updates on my travel to DC for an econ and politics conference as well as a week at Ford's Theater, but I will also pull back the curtain on what it is I do to prepare for the class of 2017 (wow, just wow).

Yesterday was graduation for TIS and, with the exception of two stangers who wanted to show us their shortcomings, it was lovely to see these young women and men achieve this milestone. These were the first students I ever taught and so these charges are special to me. One of the nicest moments for me was to be invited by a student to attend the senior breakfast as his guest. His words were humbling and he doesn't know what his invitiation meant to me. There is a song that says, "I don't think I'm supposed to tell you what this means to me ... who's doing a favor for who?"

Today, I'm back in the classroom finishing a project that I've been working on since last fall. Finally, a quiet morning and afternoon to complete it. That's the thing alot of people don't understand about teaching. The focus is on kids and sometimes administrative things get bumped. A school day can be 12 hours or more when you're in the classroom, at the games and concerts, grading like a fiend and overseeing the drama that is teen angst. It is surreal sometimes to be in a quiet classroom and building.

Well, back to work...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When what you see isn't always ...

We played with Artwork of the Week today to tie into the idea of looking and listening with new eyes and ears. We started with this image from the Renwick Gallery in DC.

Ghost Clock 1985 Wendell Castle Born: Emporia, Kansas 1932 bleached Honduras mahogany 86 1/4 x 24 1/2 x 15 in. (219.0 x 62.2 x 38.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program © 1985, Wendell Castle 1989.68 Renwick Gallery

Here are some of the comments the students made:
  • Wooden base with a cloth thrown over something: they've speculated it was a coffin, table upside down, oblisk, light, grandfather clock and a statue of a man.
  • They've noticed that both the cloth and the wood have been manipulated by man and are highly finished rather than raw pieces of wood and cloth. There is a high amount of detail of the linen and the wood.
  • They've wondered if the cloth is more important that the piece its concealing, that their is something highly symbolic under the cloth and that it is fragile enough to need to be protected.
  • They've wondered why it is covered when other pieces in the room are not. (see my photo below for their reference).
  • They've wondered why the front was covered but they've allowed the back to be more exposed.
  • They speculated that the piece is unfinished and covered out of respect to the late artist.
  • They suggested that the cloth gives it almost a feminine shape, like the dress on the Statue of Liberty.

 BTW-I am wearing the same shirt today-didn't realize it until the kids pointed it out. :)

I won't give away the piece's secret but I have to say once I showed the students, their OMG's and wows and laughs were fun to experience.

We've moved the discussion to why an artist might deceive us. We also explored the pieces we've looked at through the year. Two came to mind and are listed below:

Paul Revere
The Bloody Massacre
Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01868
Author/Creator: Revere, Paul (1735-1818)
Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts
Type: Engraving
Date: 1770
Pagination: 1 p. ; 29.3 x 24 cm.
Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) 
The Home of a Rebel Shaprshooter, Gettyburg
Gardner's Photogrpahic Sketchbook of the Civil War
Albumen silver print, 1863
Prints and Photogrpahic Division
Here are the final two sessions of the Let Freedom Swing series from Jazz at Lincoln Center. We talked today about the need to participate in our democracy.