9 May

Outline for The Importance of a Personal Story

Thesis:

Individual histories are important in helping people better understand the past and make the storytellers understand that their own story is important. We must first acquire the pieces before we can create a tapestry. The more detailed the pieces, the more detailed and beautiful the tapestry.

People, especially Americans, are becoming disconnected with history.

  • People are becoming disconnected with their histories and where they come from. They don’t understand how they have been impacted by their ancestors.
    • “Young Americans are looking to their roots – 83 percent of 18- to 34-years-old are interested in learning their family history. Following closely are the 35- to 54-year-olds at 77 percent and Americans ages 55+ at 73 percent.
    • Half of Americans know the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents.
    • Twenty-two percent of Americans don’t know what either of their grandfathers do or did for a living.
    • Although America is known as a nation of immigrants, 27 percent don’t know where their family lived before they came to America.
    • Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they are interested in learning more about their family history.
    • Fifty percent of American families have ever researched their roots (9)”.
  • We must know our family pasts to fully understand ourselves. Why else would adopted children sometimes search so hard to find their real parents?
    • “Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents each possess a lifetime of incredible, unique experiences that have shaped their lives and impacted our own. It’s important we take time to better get to know our family members and to share our stories” (9).

 

How history impacts us today.

  • In a world with so much progress and movement forward, it’s easy for people to believe that history is simply something that happened in the past and not something they need to care about now.
  • This is not the case. The past helps us to understand how to solve problems.
    • “It has been said that he who controls the past controls the future. Our view of history shapes the way we view the present, and therefore it dictates what answers we offer for existing problems” (1).
  • The past made you who you are today.
    • You learned your values from your ancestors, whether you realize it or not.
    • You live the lifestyle you do because of ancestors, which has shaped you.
  • There are so many people in our family tree and if we got rid of one, we wouldn’t exist today. (12)

 

 

Why it is important to teach history. (There seems to be some sort of view that people hold that they are so tiny and insignificant and that nothing they do will ever make a difference in the end. How untrue that is, I can’t even tell you.

  • Students need to see themselves in history and how their family fit in somewhere in that past.
    • “Elementary social studies education is important as it provides students the ability to recognize themselves as part of history, recognize and apply spatial relationships as analytical tools, empathize with other people and appreciate their activities as intelligent adaptations to time and place, and develop an understanding of continuity, change and chronology.” (11).
    • “enable students to learn content and patterns found in social studies; and help children learn content through using intellectual process skills such as observation and inference” (11).
    • “The teaching of only facts reduces their intellectual abilities and denies students the expressive potential inherent in their humanity” (11).
  • Show students how they will impact the future (which is someone else’s past)
    • “We have come to know that every individual lives, from one generation to the next, in some society; that he lives out a biography, and lives it out within some historical sequence. By the fact of this living, he contributes, however minutely, to the shaping of this society and to the course of its history, even as he is made by society and by its historical push and shove” (7 page 6).

 

The most effective way to bring history to life is through oral histories.

Oral History.

Talk about StoryCorps

  • Enhanced learning
    • Makes people more interested in history.
      • “Although stories of past lives, communities, and events might seem intrinsically interesting, Goodlad suggested that something happens to that material on its way into the classroom. As a result, students often find the subject dry, boring, and surprisingly unconnected to their lives” (2).
      • “I would argue that social history, whatever its merits, tends to flatten the narrative by focusing on groups” (2).
    • Students become more aware of their history and tend to think more critically about it.
      • “When students do an oral history project, they become historians and develop critical thinking skills as a result” (2).
      • “Helping students to see differences in historical accounts, including oral histories, and then to frame questions about why accounts differ, fosters their abilities as critical thinkers” (6).
    • Empathy
      • “Oral history fosters empathy by encouraging students to see the world through the eyes of another” (2).
    • Helping students to become conscientious students of the world.

 

 

History is dying off

  • Marie Wilcox, the last of the Wukchumni people (13).
  • Marie’s history dying off is pretty major, but there are people around us every day who have their own history and this history is also dying off. We don’t know what sort of information these people hold, what they offer.
    • “Almost always they would say their life was boring. But asking questions, bringing out good memories and being encouraging would bring out the good things.  I think they were happy to pass along what they knew (4)”
    • “I was always amazed at the life each person led. I never found anyone to have led a boring life (4).”

 

 

 

The importance of knowing an individuals story. The value of listening and the understanding that every story matters.

  • Positive effects of getting to know that person you interviewed.
    • The more you get to know a generation, the more you can connect to a generation.
      • After doing a project with his students involving them interviewing some elderly people the teacher found that “significant connections were made between generations” (6).
    • Positive effects of the person telling their story and being listed to.
      • “I always hoped that this interest in their lives would make they feel that their lives mattered. I think it did make them feel that way (4).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do people think that history is boring and unimportant? Why don’t people understand their place in history? Why have kids been disconnected from history? Why don’t children hold empathy for the people that lived in the past? Why has the oral tradition been lost? Why have

 

Instead of just focusing on how this loss of appreciation of history is effecting the current generation, also focus on how our lack of interest may be effecting the older generation.

 

People assume that history can only be found as recent as hundreds of years ago through people that have already died. Or maybe it can only be found in a speaker that comes to your school. The truth is, everyone has a history, and the older the person the longer the history. History does not need to be found in only major events.

 

9 May

Drafting for The Importance of a Personal Story

I grew up listening to my grandmother tell stories. They were mostly stories from books, but from time to time she would tell a short story of my father growing up, or one from her own childhood. These stories pulled from her memory sparked my imagination and brought to life my grandma’s past. It was always so strange to think of my grandmother as young girl in a world so different from my own. Looking back I realize how important her individual history is. Individual histories are important in helping people better understand the past and make the storytellers understand that their own story is important. We must first acquire the pieces before we can create a tapestry. The more detailed the pieces, the more detailed and beautiful the tapestry.  Without these pieces, it is difficult to bring the past to life, which is exactly the problem occurring in America today. People are losing their sense of importance of the past as well as the benefits that come with knowing about the past.

This lost feeling about the importance of the past is causing people to become disconnected with history and their own pasts. Ancestry.com has seen this in America with only “half of Americans [knowing] the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents” and with only “fifty percent of American families [having] ever researched their roots” (PRNewswire). These statistics also apply to the community of Lincoln. Many people are not taking the time to discover their own family histories, and the story that made them who they are today.

This ignorance of the past causes people to forget how history impacts people today, which in turn causes people to lose the benefits this knowledge of the past provides. In a world that seems to be constantly advancing and looking to the future, it’s easy for people to believe that history is simply something that happened but now has no purpose in modern society. The president and CEO of The Generations Network, Tim Sullivan, reminds us that “our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents each possess a lifetime of incredible, unique experiences that have shaped their lives and impacted our own. It’s important we take time to better get to know our family members and to share our stories” (PRNewswire). The history that people choose to teach to “children is playing a role in shaping their values and beliefs” (Crabtree). Whether their past sounds good or bad, understanding how ancestors impact people today leads to a reassessment of how a person is currently living their life.

There is also a more practical reason for people to know where they came from. Many adopted children seek to find out who their birth parents are, but it’s not always for the heartwarming reasons movies might suggest. Often times, they do this so they can find out their medical histories and discover why they might act the way that they do (Betchen). The past not only shows people where they found their values and predispositions, but their personal pasts can show them why some of them sneeze because of pollen or why some of them end up with Alzheimer’s. The physical makeup of one’s ancestor’s bodies is what makes up their own body.

Going beyond just personal histories, it is important to look at the significance of history objectively. History in general is extremely important to know and understand the past because “our view of history shapes the way we view the present, and therefore it dictates what answers we offer for existing problems” (Crabtree). History has shaped the present that has made humans inescapably intertwined with the past. It has dictated current beliefs and shaped the issues that we face in this world today. If people do not acknowledge history and what it has already taught them “we will find ourselves fabricating a past that reinforces our understanding of current problems” (Crabtree). As people become increasingly disconnected with the past, issues may become more difficult to solve because no one has a proper understanding of its past and will therefore not truly understand how to resolve it. People will only ever look for solutions that they want to solve the issue, not solutions that will actually solve the issue.

The best way for people to learn history and appreciate its importance is to start learning it at an early age in school. It’s common to hear people complaining about their history classes. They say that history is not important to learn “because it’s already happened”, a mindset that is negatively affecting my community. The improper teaching of history has brought about this mindset. Many history classrooms only teach facts and “the teaching of only facts reduces [the student’s] intellectual abilities and denies students the expressive potential inherent in their humanity” (Ohio Department of Education). While there have been schools and teachers that are working to change this mindset, the idea that history isn’t important in schools has already been engrained in the mind of the student and reinforced by the population of the internet through memes. Students have already stopped caring, so one of the greatest challenges is to convince them to start caring again.

One of the best ways to convince students to care again and begin to enforce the importance of history is to encourage the tradition of oral history. StoryCorps is an organization that is dedicated to recording the stories of people and they emphasize its importance by reminding people what is so important about history. On their about page, StoryCorps says they collect oral histories “to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters” (StoryCorps). It sums up why it is important for people to listen to each other’s stories. Without these stories people may begin to lose their empathy towards others and lose their place in the world. Oral histories work to enhance learning, nurture empathy and help students to become conscientious students of the world.

There are multiple ways that oral history enhances learning. First off, people become more interested in history when there is a name and face that helps them to connect to it. One would argue that the “stories of past lives, communities, and events might seem intrinsically interesting” but when people only focus on groups while teaching social history it flattens the narrative and “students find the subject dry, boring, and surprisingly unconnected to their lives” (Crocco). When students are taught through oral histories though, the individual stories do not lose anything on their way to the student and retain their intrinsically interesting appeal. This encourages students to learn history by peaking their interest and enforcing the connection of history to the student.

History also enhances learning by forcing the student to think critically. This is especially true when the students go out and collect the oral histories for themselves. In discovering multiple oral histories, students develop the skills to “frame questions about why accounts differ, fosters their abilities as critical thinkers” (Miller). Every person has a different story, and every person has an account of what they experienced during different events throughout history. When given these multiple stories, students are forced to think about the past complexly. It stops becoming a feeding of facts and becomes an interactive activity that stimulates the brain and a person’s passion for history.

Oral histories work to enhance learning, but also can be used to create empathy in a student. When listening to oral histories, students are encouraged  “to see the world through the eyes of another,” therefore creating an emotional link between the student and interviewee (Crocco). With this emotional link, the student will view events with a fresh perspective that allows them to better understand the events told to them and foster an emotional connection to the past. It also helps bring the history to life for the students seeing them

Once students have reaped the benefits of using oral histories, students will then have a grown appreciation for history and they can continue to receive the benefits that learning history in the classroom provides.

So far, it has been made quite clear why it is important for people to teach and study oral history, but some people may wonder why the point of the elderly being interviewed has been emphasized. An example of why interviewing the elderly is particularly important is shown in the story of Marie Wilcox, a Wukchumni Native American. Marie grew up speaking the Wukchumni language with her grandmother family, but, until recently, she did not teach the language to anyone else. When she learned that she was the last person on earth who spoke the Wukchumni language fluently though, her urgency to teach became much greater. She began to write a dictionary, as well as create an oral version of her dictionary. She also began teaching her children and grandchildren how to speak Wukchumni so that her native language would not die off. Marie was born in 1993, so she is worried that if she does not work to teach other, her native language, as well as all the stories passed down in her language, will die off with her (Vaughan-lee). If Marie wants to pass along her language though, it will not be enough for her to make an effort, but other people will have to listen and learn from her. It is not a goal that she can finish on her own.

Marie’s story is similar to the stories of many other elderly people in America and how, without someone to listen, their stories may go forever unheard. While not everyone carries a dying language with them, every person does carry an important story with them, even if they don’t believe they do. Helen Hohbein, who recorded the stories of many elderly people while she worked in a nursing home, stated that “almost always [the elderly] would say their life was boring. But asking questions, bringing out good memories, and being encouraging would bring out the good things… I never found anyone to have led a boring life” (Hohbein). Without the encouragement to share their stories, these elderly people may not have ever shared what they had to offer to the world. Their stories and experiences would have passed on with them. In order to collect stories, it’s necessary for people to ask questions and record answers to preserve stories.

People perceive history as growing increasingly boring as the years pass, but it’s not history’s fault. People in my community are losing their sense of importance of the past as well as the benefits that come with knowing about the past. By encouraging the use of oral history and relating people to their pasts, people can connect more to history and learn from it as they should.

9 May

Drafting for A Time to Rest #2

Author’s note: With peer comments and all here’s the draft…

The brisk wind whistles through my thin, black jacket as I rush into the local coffee house. The warm air washes over me as I open the door, and a small bell rings above the door (too repetitive), noting my entrance. I’m not there for it’s (the) warmth though, or even it’s (the) coffee. It’s (currently) a Friday night, and on most Fridays, this small, corner coffee shop invites a band to come and play for the customers.

Tonight a local bluegrass band called the Prairie Creek Ramblers is playing in the back corner. With the twang of a banjo, the deep strum of the upright bass, and the soothing melody of guitar (comma?) they fill the coffee shop with a smooth and relaxing tune. I’ve walked in on a slow song, one where the instruments play softly and the lyrics are sad and sweet. It sets the tone of the shop as I walk up to the counter to give my order. In line I cast my gaze to the other customers in the shop. Some faces I recognize from previous visits, others bear the face of a stranger, but both kinds of faces held (hold? are you trying to have a present or past tense? make sure to keep just one tense) a serene look, reflecting the mood of the song. Conversations were (are?) held in low whispers and chairs pulled and pushed silently. The song then came to a beautiful resolution as I ordered my drink and the customers ended (conclude) the song with spattering claps (applause).

After ordering (comma?) I walk to a seat near some familiar faces. One is Anita, the mother of the lead singer, a good friend of mine. She greets me loudly as I approach, and the banjo strums the beginning of the next song, this time a more upbeat and l tune (?). I return her greeting as I drape my jacket over the wobbly chair.

I go up (return to the counter) to retrieve my drink at the counter (carefully walking back) then return to my seat to relax and enjoy the music. I tap my foot and absent mindedly stare into my drink while I allow my mind to wander and forget for a while.

Often in this busy world I can’t find time to slow down and relax like this. I’ve lived most of my life constantly going from one activity to the next while also trying to balance school and family. Music provides as a means of escape from this, if just for a (mere) moment. But a blaring iPod, booming radio, or even a live concert in a large arena can’t quite match the serenity I find when I immerse myself in the live music in such a casual place, like a coffee shop. I can actually feel the hum of the instruments without having to worry about the hectic and stressful crowds of a large concert. I can sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy pleasant conversations with those around me.

I (stay seated) sit for another few songs before the band announces that they will be taking a short break before performing another set of songs. This is another thing that I love about a local bands because you get (dead verb) a chance to directly talk and hang out with the performers instead of being separated by a screen or security detail.

We talk (converse) and laugh for a while before they make their way back to their corner and settle in to continue playing and (while) I settle back into my chair. I clear my mind again as the banjo starts the next flood of songs. I hum to myself some of the more familiar tunes and occasionally glance up to observe the mood around me.

Inevitably, the last song begins during which the singer invites the audience to sing along. I sing the final chorus with the band before the cafe breaks out in (into?) applause. I remember the feeling of the music, but reality comes back to me as I review all the things I need to accomplish for the weekend. I attempt to catch myself, but it’s too late. The music is done and I must again return to my responsibilities, but at least for that little while I was able to clear my mind. While responsibilities are important (fundamental), it’s also important to stop and relax for a while by enjoying simple pleasures like a local band.

9 May

Drafting for A Time to Rest #1

Author’s note: With peer comments and all here’s the draft…

The brisk wind whistles through my thin (adjective – make it a cooler jacket ;)) jacket as I rush into Mojava, a local coffee house. The warm air washes over me as I open the door, and a small bell rings above the door, noting my entrance. I’m not there for it’s warmth though, or even it’s coffee. It’s a Friday night, and most Fridays this small, corner coffee shop invites a band to come and play for the customers.

Tonight just so happens to be a bluegrass band called the Prairie Creek Ramblers, who I have seen perform before. I am actually friends with the members. The twang of a banjo and the deep strum of the upright bass fill the coffee shop with a smooth and relaxing tune. I’ve walked in on a slow song, one where the instruments are subtle and the lyrics sad and sweet. It sets the tone of the shop as I walk up to the counter to give my order. As I wait I cast my gaze to the other customers in the shop. Some faces I recognize from previous visits, others bear the face of a stranger, but this doesn’t change the fact that every face in there had a peaceful (mask). Conversations were held in low whispers and chairs pulled and pushed carefully.

The song finished before the barista finished my drink, so I walked to a seat near some familiar faces. One was Anita, the mother of the lead singer, a good friend of mine. She greeted me loudly as I walked up, and the banjo strummed the beginning of the next song, a faster and louder tune this time. I returned her greeting as I draped my jacket over the wobbly chair.

I go to the counter to retrieve my drink then return to my seat to relax and enjoy the music.

 

Often in this busy world I can’t find time to slow down and relax like this. I’ve lived most of my life constantly going from one activity to the next while also trying to balance school and family. Music has always provided a way for me to escape from this, if just for a moment, but a loud iPod, booming radio, or even a live concert in a large arena can’t quite match the serenity I find when I immerse myself in the live music in such a casual place, like a coffee shop. I can actually feel the hum of the instruments without having to worry about the hectic and stressful crowds of a large concert. I can sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy pleasant conversations with those around me.

I sit for another few songs before the band announces that they will be taking a short break before performing another set of songs. This is another thing that I love about a local bands because you get a chance to directly talk and hang out with the performers instead of being separated by screens or a stage

We talk and laugh for a while before they make their way back to their corner and settle in to continue playing.

3 Dec

Draft for A Time to Rest

Dear Reader,

I wrote this story to focus on a local band called the Prairie Creek Ramblers. I say that the gig is at a local coffee shop, but purposely don’t say the name so that you, the reader, doesn’t focus on the fact that it’s in a coffee shop. Instead you should focus on the averageness and closeness of the venue and how this enhances the music experience. It hopefully encourages you and others to slow down and go listen to a local band. It shows you the positive aspects of supporting local bands.

 

A Time to Rest

The brisk wind whistles through my thin, black jacket as I rush into the local coffee house. The warm air washes over me as the small bell rings above the door, announcing my entrance. I’m not there for the warmth though, or even the coffee. It’s currently a Friday night, and on most Fridays, this small, corner cafe invites a band to come and play for the customers.

Tonight a local bluegrass band called the Prairie Creek Ramblers is playing in the back corner. With the twang of a banjo, the deep strum of the upright bass, and the soothing melody of guitar, they fill the coffee shop with a smooth and relaxing tune. I’ve walked in on a slow song, one where the instruments play softly and the lyrics are sad and sweet. It sets the tone of the shop as I walk up to the counter to give my order. In line I cast my gaze to the other customers in the shop. Some faces I recognize from previous visits, others bear the face of a stranger, but both kinds of faces hold a serene look, reflecting the mood of the song. Conversations are held in low whispers and chairs pulled and pushed silently. The song then came to a beautiful resolution as I ordered my drink and the customers end the song with spattering applause.

After ordering, I walk to a seat near some familiar faces. One is Anita, the mother of the lead singer, a good friend of mine. She greets me loudly as I approach, and the banjo strums the beginning of the next song, this time a more upbeat and rolling tune. I return her greeting as I drape my jacket over the wobbly chair.

I return to the counter to retrieve my drink carefully walking back to my seat to relax and enjoy the music. I tap my foot and absent mindedly stare into my drink while I allow my mind to wander and forget for a while.

Often in this busy world I can’t find time to slow down and relax like this. I’ve lived most of my life constantly going from one activity to the next while also trying to balance school and family. Music provides a means of escape from this, if just for a mere moment. But a blaring iPod, booming radio, or even a live concert in a large arena can’t quite match the serenity I find when I immerse myself in the live music in such a casual place, like a coffee shop. I can actually feel the hum of the instruments without having to worry about the hectic and stressful crowds of a large concert. I can sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy pleasant conversations with those around me.

I stay seated for another few songs before the band announces that they will be taking a short break before performing another set of songs. This is another thing that I love about a local bands because I’m able to directly talk and hang out with the performers instead of being separated by a screen or security detail.

We converse and laugh for a while before they make their way back to their corner and settle in to continue playing as I settle back into my chair. I clear my mind again as the banjo starts the next flood of songs. I hum to myself some of the more familiar tunes and occasionally glance up to observe the mood around me.

Inevitably, the last song begins during which the singer invites the audience to sing along. I sing the final chorus with the band before the cafe breaks into applause. I remember the feeling of the music, but reality comes back to me as I review all the things I need to accomplish for the weekend. I attempt to catch myself, but it’s too late. The music is done and I must again return to my responsibilities, but at least for that little while I was able to clear my mind. While responsibilities are important fundamental, it’s also important to stop and relax for a while by enjoying simple pleasures like a local band.

28 Aug

Old Lady on the Corner

Original Draft:

The house on the corner was truly your home.

Sweet and Old you would often have a smile

But you would seldom leave your walls to roam

And you would often fancy I stay a while.

 

You would give me toys to place on my shelf

An old rocking horse your dad made from wood

A necklace or ring to adorn myself

Also cookies like an old woman should

 

One day you packed up and you moved away

You can’t live on your own while wearing thin

“Thank you for coming to see me today”

But of course we would, for you are like kin.

 

To my sweet old neighbor who gave me toys

I thank you for your gifts and humble joy.

I made some changes to this sonnet because reading over it, it just sounds very awkward and disjointed. There was no nice flow like a sonnet should have. Also, the words that I used were bland at times and not very descriptive. Sometimes I had a hard time imagining what it was supposed to look like and I was the one that wrote it! The first time around, I did not put enough thought into this poem, but going back to edit it, I tried to make it come to life more and carry more feeling about the little old lady who lived on the corner.

The house on the corner. That was your home.

Sweet and old, with an ever-present smile.

Your weakened body would not let you roam,

So I would come to you and stay a while.

 

You gave me trinkets to place on my shelf,

An old rocking chair hand crafted from wood,

A bracelet or ring to adorn myself,

And cookies with lemonade when you could.

 

One day a van came to move you away.

In the corner house you felt a bother.

“Thank you for visiting me” you would say.

But of course. You are like my grandmother.

 

When I was young I thought you gave me toys,

But I know now, what you gave me was joy.