The other night I tagged along with my husband, to go see my uncle at his wood working shop, to discuss a coffee table he would be building. I hadn’t been in there for a long time and was immediately struck by how cool it was (well for a history teacher anyways). Many of the tools were from my grandfather’s workshop and even his father before him. It is incredible to think of the history that went behind these tools, how they had crossed the Atlantic with my grandfather from Italy. It’s one thing to read about the history of something, but when you can feel a physical part of that history it helps to transport you back in time. That is why I think field trips are such a vital part of social studies, or any course for that matter, and something we need to bring back.
The oldest tool I found, (that we know of, because it’s the only one dated) was from 1897, called a plane and is used to smooth the rough surface of the wood. But, the coolest tool I encountered was the old fashioned drill. My uncle doesn’t obviously use it anymore, but he showed me all my grandfather’s old bits and how it was used. I couldn’t imagine how any one used this, it must have taken hours, not to mention the physical exertion needed to operate the tool. Having just helped DH build a deck this summer, where I struggled using a power drill, I can appreciate carpenters of the old days.
The teacher who teaches the other 3 blocks of Social Studies 9 with me, does a year long project where the students research their own histories. Seeing all these old tools, and remembering my grandparents and how they came to Canada, has inspired me to do that project next year with my students. I would love to hear about how students’ families made it to Canada, and I would hope that through their own research the students would come to appreciate their family history as well. Maybe this is a project where technology can help me out 🙂