Thursday, February 3, 2011

Western Reserve History through Place: Journal 2

January 22, 2011

Field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Awesome! For me, getting the chance to go to the Natural History Museum without my children is a dream. Normally, I am jumping around from dinosaurs to woodlands creature displays and back again. I don't typically get a chance to reflect on any of the material. I do get a chance to inspire my children, and my eldest son is really excited and interested in everything… so it's a good feeling to provide your children with such a luxury. Indeed, living in Cleveland is a great opportunity, and I feel privileged to have so many distinct and great cultural resources to share with them.

Growing up in Sandusky we may be made it each museum once, spread out over our primary school years, and I was lucky to have a parent interested in the arts, who brought me to establishments more often than what most school children in the city experienced. Sandusky had two museums, when I was growing up, one being the cultural center at the High School, and the other being a house museum. There was never the push for excelling in school, nor did the course requirements really ask that much from the students. By my sophomore of high school, I was a bored student, who would gladly draw cartoons, and get thrown out of class for daydreaming. I always loved history and science, but since I wasn't in the "accelerated" class (which was determined in first grade by the way), I was not expected to excel in anything. We had unchallenging criteria, but most of my classmates were still either failing out of school or just passing. My grades were all over the place, and I had a "C" average thanks to ranging grades. Luckily, my sophomore history teacher cared, and he took interest in his students, not just their grades, or his marks as an educator for that matter. He saw that I was bored, and he asked if I wanted extra assignments. Extra assignments! I was excited to have a challenge. He assigned me additional reading, and thus begun my career in academia. I remember reading Candid, and I remember finding the paper I wrote some years later. I constantly think back to this teacher, and mentally thank him for showing interest in my intellect. He helped me test into the "accelerated" level for my junior year, and in turn, helped me accomplish my undergraduate and now graduate degrees.

Back to the Natural History Museum, and my amazement at the levels of amazing-ness held within its walls and beyond. While I intuitively love the place, I had no idea the level of prestige attached to it. I am continued pleased to find out little factoids about the Cleveland area and its institutions. We are really lucky to be here, and I am so enthused to have it to share with my children.

The most impactful part of our field trip to the museum was discussing the early native peoples of Ohio. I am a full blooded American, meaning, I have a little bit of everything, but one of those ethnic backgrounds is Seneca. I grew up wrongly identifying my native heritage as Cherokee, but learned around fifteen that I was actually Seneca, from the Iroquois Nation. I found the exhibits informative, and the exhibits really provided an enriching learning experience. I am a visual person, so having models and sketches of villages to back up what Dr. Stith and Mr. Fagan were saying… really enhanced the experience. I was really interested to see the fortifications of early villages, and it is interesting to couple that with the geography of the area. It is fascinating to see how we adapt our built environment to the natural surroundings. I am deeply fascinated in the movement of early peoples to that of our current culture. It is pretty dramatic to see how we adapt natural resources, how industrialization changed this connection to nature, and how we are now struggling to reacquaint ourselves to the simplest of concepts.

I would like more of an opportunity to work with pre-history, and then to be able to apply this to the built environment. I am someone who is always wonder, what else? What else haven't I learned, and what else could I explore? I love to feel like a kid again, figuring out something, and advancing my knowledge.

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