This week’s readings were insightful, and the websites are great resources that I hope to use in my future teaching.
Perhaps my favorite of all the readings this week was Paul Gruchow’s “Rosewood Township.” The detailed descriptions of true farm life were enticing, though I don’t think I would ever survive in that environment today. One of the parts that stuck out to me was when he talked about his father (Gruchow 26-27). A friend of mine and I often discuss how much we want to see the world and don’t understand those who wouldn’t, but at the same time, I do understand the reasoning of those who don’t share my mindset. Some people, as Gruchow says, are “perfectly content to be who they are and where they are,” and that’s OK (27).
Although I don’t see myself grounded in the same way as the people in Gruchow’s narrative, I do admire them, especially those who continue to employ traditional methods of doing things. My mother similarly continues to use traditional methods when doing things. To this day, she makes her own yogurt from scratch (because the store-bought stuff is costly over time), and kneads fresh dough about three times a week. She even continues to hand wash all of her dishes, though we do have a working dishwasher “It just doesn’t get the dishes clean enough, and I can do it faster,” she’d say. As a girl who relies unfortunately too much on many technologies, I truly admire my mother and people like her, such as those Gruchow describes.
I also liked reading about the importance of bringing in controversial topics to a place discussion, as described in “A City Too Busy to Reflect? Public History, Controversy, and Civic Engagement.” I agree that it is important to look at the controversial topics when studying or developing our perceptions of a place. In my future teaching, I hope to bring up these types of topics so that students can see that everything isn’t always “happy-go-lucky,” as they may think. I couldn’t help but think of the Facts of Life theme here: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and then you have the facts of life.” Likewise, I think you do need to know all sides of a place before you can make a solid contribution in establishing “community.”
The KCAC initiative as explained by Sarah Robbins in “Overview: Classroom Literacies and Public Culture,” was a good precursor to viewing the website. On the site, I particularly liked the five themes and community projects. The ones that stuck out to me most were the “reclaiming displaced heritages” and “educating for citizenship” elements. I feel like I could incorporate those into the structure of a future class I teach by having students do hands-on research of a location, which includes interviewing those who are more familiar with the location, looking through old articles/newspapers to get a sense of what the community once was, and comparing it to what the community is like today.
I also liked the community projects described on the website, particularly “life in Hickory Flat.” This goes back to my previous concept of incorporating a hands-on community learning project into a classroom setting. I think students would benefit from documenting a location and studying it in terms of past, present, and get ideas for what it may be like in the future and how to make that outlook positive or stronger. This knowledge would ideally help them become active citizens in the community.
Finally, I was really interested in the concept of a “felt” geography. Before reading the article, I thought it would be something about how we should “feel” geography and perhaps detail an account of how a group or a person “felt” their geography, but it was much deeper than I expected. After reading authors Danny Mayer and Keith Woodward’s description of “felt” geographies and how they work within place-based pedagogies, I had not thought about how we “quite literally feel space even if we do not register it as such,” though I agree this concept is true (Mayer & Woodward 112). I thought the comparison to literal fabric was a good way of explaining how this works, though I’m still not certain how I would go about explaining this concept or using it in teaching myself.