I am now working as a museum teacher in the Education Department here at Plimoth Plantation. I’ll be away from the 1627 English village until spring of next year. Being in the Ed Dept. means plenty of travel this fall and winter. I’ve already had the pleasure of visiting schools in South Dennis, MA, and Medfield, MA. Both were very enjoyable and successful visits, I think. I notice that there can be a stark contrast between the ways we are able to teach in the Village itself from that of classroom visits.
Sometimes the Village can be a bit overwhelming (and I mean that in a good way) for students and teachers alike. Compared to the classroom it’s a much bigger expanse of space. It’s not difficult at times for folks to undergo a sort of sensory overload with all the sights and sounds and smells of a 17th century village and we do our best to accurately reproduce all of them.. From chickens wandering freely to cows in the pastures and goats on the roof of their barns, it’s easy for children to forget that they’ve come to learn something, in addition to having so much fun. Certainly we want for them to be entertained, but we want to educate them as well.
In the classroom when I arrive, it feels like a palpable sense of anticipation coming from the children. I always get the sense that they really want to be there, and really want me there as well. As we, as museum teachers, weave our stories about the Mayflower voyage, the Pilgrim’s arrival, encounters with Natives, the First Thanksgiving, and acting out daily life, they fall into the spell of actually participating in “the show”. We show them the joys and even sometimes the sorrow of what this brave and disparate bunch went through, coming here to New England.
I’ll be going to New York City soon, and then on to Wisconsin. Some of us will be heading to Utah in December. If you are out there when we get there, be sure to say hello. And if you aren’t a part of those trips, we’d really like to hear from you here. Let’s have a conversation. Is there anything you’d like to know about “behind the scenes” here at Plimoth Plantation? We’ll do our best to respond.
PS Look for the Education Department’s own blog upcoming soon!