What a difference a day makes (or two or three)
Wow! So I’ve had this blog for a few years, and I’ve just recently moved it to its own domain. I would tell a few people here and there about my blog and what my plans were for it, but I never really put myself out there. Until a few days ago, when I made the leap and posted my blog on my facebook page. Now, it’s being linked by the Culture and Heritage Museums, and soon UNC Charlotte’s Public History Program (which I am a proud graduate of) and I couldn’t be happier. What better place to talk to everybody about slave life and create conversation about something so sensitive. So with that said, let’s get talkin’ about slavery!
A really fun part of interpreting slavery is when you get to talk to students about what it was like for the slaves. I am very laid back when it comes to my approach and I usually adjust my presentation to meet their needs. I have found that when I speak to kids on their level, in a language they understand, they are more receptive to what you’re telling them. And let’s face it, it’s not easy teaching slavery to kids, no matter what the age. I’ve also found that I’m more comfortable talking to younger kids about slavery and level with them because they are sponges and willing to learn and aren’t as jaded as say, an eighth grader. I love the eighth graders, don’t get me wrong but they are a little bit more difficult due to teenage sass and the whole..”man, whatever, I’ve heard this before”.
But patience is key and so is getting a feel for your group before you start talking. There have been many times where I adjust my content based on the age of the group, the vibe of the group, and the make up of your group. And when I say make up, I don’t mean your ethnic make up, I actually mean male to female ratios. If I have a group of boys, I want to talk to them about what slave males were doing a little bit more than what the women were doing. Why? Because in their minds, they are picturing themselves in that same space and thinking, “Would I like being a carpenter? I could probably pick 200 lbs of cotton a day, etc” Don’t believe me? I’ve had male students get competitive with their classmates on the amount of cotton they felt they would be able to pick in the heat of summer. And it’s fun seeing them engaged in your presentation because that let’s you know as an interpreter that they hear you, and they’re processing the information. If you just drone on about all the facts you know and talk without paying attention to the body language they are giving you, then you’ll lose them completely.
Teachers appreciate it when you adjust to their students as well. Kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for today, and it’s very possible to stay within your interpretive lesson plan, relay the same information and boost it up a level to meet the intellect of the class. If anything, you’ll be the one interpreter they walk away from remembering, loving and looking for the next year.