Tag Archives: Education

Should We Still Teach Cursive Handwriting?


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01679vAn ad like the one in the January 21, 1869 issue of the Malone Palladium which announced the opening of a new writing school in Malone, NY, was not uncommon during the post-Civil War era.

According to the ad, Professor T.M. Tobin, a former teacher at the Vermont Business College in Burlington, was offering to teach “ladies and gentlemen the Spencerian system of penmanship.”

Students were expected to provide their own foolscap paper, “good” ink, and pens. Tobin’s ad stated that specimens of his penmanship could be seen at the post office and that he would award a gold pen to the student who showed the most improvement. His fee for twelve lessons in today’s money was about $35.00, payable in advance. Continue reading

New Book: A History of Fordham University


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image005(1)In Fordham University & the United States: A History (E-Lit Books, 2013), Debra Caruso Marrone delivers a breezy, informative book for American history lovers and anyone associated with the 172-year-old institution.

Founded as St. John’s College in 1841 by New York Archbishop John Hughes, the university began as a vehicle to educate young men and deliver Catholics to the upper class. Continue reading

The Mixed Multitudes of the Mohawk Valley


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mohawk-valley-plaquePeacefully sharing a space-time continuum does not come easily to our species. The challenge of doing so was played out in colonial New Amsterdam/New York in the 17th and 18th centuries especially from Albany and Schenectady westward throughout the Mohawk Valley.

There, and north to the Champlain Valley and Canada, multiple peoples who had not yet become two-dimensional cliches struggled to dominate, share, and survive in what became increasingly contentious terrain. Battles were fought, settlements were burned, and captives were taken, again and again.

By the 19th century, much of that world had vanished save for the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. By the 20th century, that world existed in state historic sites, historical societies and local museums, Hollywood, and at times in the state’s social studies curriculum. Continue reading

Dear Santa: Please Bring Us A Women’s History Tourism Trail


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Cradle of the U.S. women's rights movement is in NYPLEASE HELP, Santa. What we really want for Christmas is a women’s trail.

When members of the U.S. Congress and the New York State Legislature open their doors in January 2014, chances are that they will have received notice of our holiday appeal.

The reason for asking Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for assistance is because of the urgent need for help in obtaining funding to advance women’s trails on both the state and federal levels. Realistically Santa might not be able to deliver on trails by December 25th, but that’s no reason to give up. Continue reading

A New History of the Wallkill Central Schools


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Wallkill SchoolsWhen the Borden family arrived in the nineteenth century, educational opportunities in Ulster County were limited; classes rarely extended beyond the eighth grade. This changed when the philanthropic Bordens established their Borden Condensed Milk Company and gave Wallkill the means to construct one of the area’s first high schools.

That history is presented in detail in A History of the Wallkill Central Schools (2013, History Press) by A.J Schenkman and Elizabeth Werlau. Continue reading

Putting the Brakes on the Common Core


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Common CoreWhat follows is a guest post by Gordon Bonnet, author of the blog Skeptophilia.

If you want to get a near-violent response from 98% of current public school students, about 75% of teachers, and unknown (but probably large) percentage of parents, administrators, and various other folks associated with education, all you have to do is utter two words:  Common Core.

It’s a funny thing, really.  On the surface, it seems like such a good idea — creating a set of uniform standards, high ones, that establish what students at every level should know and should be able to do.  Of course, there’s the immediate knee-jerk reaction from both the Right and the Left — Right-Wingers resent the intrusion by the federal government into what rightfully should be state or local decision-making, and Left-Wingers hate the infringement that the new mandates will have on the freedom of teachers to teach as they see fit and as their students might need. Continue reading

History Education and Teaching Social Studies


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SchoolTeaching is in the news. Especially the apparent lack of it. The initial test results under the Common Core standards are abysmal and they are wreaking its havoc in the school systems of America. The Common Core now being implemented may not be garner the same attention as Obamacare, but it has generated considerable vociferous and intense condemnation, including calls to cease and desist here in New York. John King, the Commissioner of Education in NYS, cancelled his original statewide tour of public forums when the first one spun out of control, although he has begun a new round.

The new social studies curriculum is scheduled for 2015, the first update since 1996. That curriculum is sure to be a topic of discussion at the annual conference of the New York State Council of Social Studies in Albany in March.  The theme of the conference is “Linking Communities Together: Academic, Civic and Cultural.” Continue reading

NY Social Studies Council Conference in Albany in March


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NYSCSS LogoIndividuals and organizations desiring to present programs at the annual conference of The New York State Council for the Social Studies and The New York Social Studies Supervisory Association at the Hilton in Albany on March 27-29 can now do so online.

The theme of this year’s confernce is Linking Communities Together: Academic, Civic and Cultural. In order to submit a proposal you will first need to become a member at a cost of $25 by clicking here. For each program delivered, presenters will receive $25 to cover personal expenses (travel, copying, etc.) related to program delivery. Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of Southampton College, 1963–2005


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Southampton CollegeSouthampton College, the easternmost campus of Long Island University, opened with great promise in 1963 and closed in 2005 amidst great acrimony. Located in an idyllic environmental setting on the Atlantic shore of Long Island, it had a nationally recognized marine science program that produced an unprecedented number of Fulbright awards and an impressive number of alumni who went on to careers in prestigious universities and research centers.

David Steinberg, the president of Long Island University since 1985, referred to Southampton as “the jewel in the university crown.” However, an accumulating yearly deficit led Steinberg and the Long Island Board of Trustees to view the campus as an “albatross around the university neck.” Continue reading

Bob Weible: Is NYS History Month Dead?


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poster1997lgIt’s true.  November is New York State History Month.

In 1997, New York’s legislature added Section 57.02 to the state’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law and 1) designated November as New York State History Month, 2) defined the purpose of the month as the celebration of state history and the recognition of the contributions of state and local historians, and 3) authorized the Education Department to undertake projects to recognize the month (while the legislation failed to identify any specific projects, it did suggest student essay contests as one possibility). Continue reading

What Works: Flashback to Your Community’s Heritage


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Capitol TheatreOn September 30, the recently reopened historic Capitol Theatre in the village of Port Chester in the Town of Rye, in the county of Westchester, founded in the days of vaudeville, beloved by the Grateful Dead, rechristened by Bob Dylan, and just host to Willie Nelson, hosted Flashbacks. 

A musical to the history of the town written by local sisters and educators Camille Linen and Donna Cribari, Flashbacks tells the story of high school students who complete a historical multimedia project and are drawn to the local river that mysteriously produces figures from the town’s past as primary source documents. Continue reading

New Book: New Netherland in a Nutshell


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books-fabendAlthough the role of the Dutch in Early American history has been largely ignored, the facts are that New Netherland antedates New England, and religious toleration and ethnic diversity in the United States began with the Dutch.

Why isn’t this better known and taught in our schools? Because, until now an easy to read, short introduction to the history of New Netherland has been lacking. Firth Haring Fabend of Montclair, NJ, a recognized historian of the field, was commissioned by the New Netherland Institute to write New Netherland in a Nutshell (New Netherland Institute, 2012) to fill the gap.  Continue reading

Professional Quandaries:
Changing Academic Publishing Models


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Photo of library academic journals by Anna Creech used under a Creative Commons licenseIt was the best of times; it was the worst of times. On the one hand with the internet (especially blogs like this one) and MOOCs (free online courses known as Massive Open Online Courses), it’s possible to disseminate more historical information to more people than ever before. On the other hand, it is becoming harder and harder to make a living doing it.

A recent post on a list serve for the Society of Historians for the Early American Republic (SHEAR) initiated this train of thought in my mind. Below is the post by Vivian Conger, Ithaca College, reprinted by permission. Continue reading

SUNY Plattsburgh Puts Yearbooks Online


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cardinal coversIf terms like Roaring Twenties, Winter Weekend and Homecoming Weekend sound familiar, you may be a graduate or staff member of SUNY Plattsburgh.

For a look into these events, as well as many others, go no further than the closest Internet connection. A total of 87 SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinal Yearbooks, consisting of 16,046 images, are now part of the New York Heritage site (www.nyheritage.org). This project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the college and the Northern New York Library Network based in Potsdam. Continue reading

The Hillary Clinton Presidential Library:
Where Would You Build It?


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hillaryrushmoreThis summer New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni wrote: “NBC recently announced plans for a mini-series about Hillary Clinton, whose current exaltation seems bound to end with her visage on Mount Rushmore. The network would do as well to consider a docudrama devoted to Weiner.”

While there is no doubt that her presidential campaign train has left the station (soon to approach warp speed), his mention of Mount Rushmore got me thinking. The well-known dictum: “If you build it they will come” is the goal of visitor centers at all tourist sites. But where would you build it? Where should her presidential library be? Continue reading

Local Documentary Filmmakers’ New Book Published


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Pepe_Filmmaking300dpi_CoverLeft Coast Press, a nationally renowned California publishing company, has released their new book, Documentary Filmmaking for Archaeologists, written by two New York documentarians, Peter Pepe and Joseph W. Zarzynski.

Peter Pepe, President of Pepe Productions, a Glens Falls video production company, and Joseph W. Zarzynski, a Wilton-based underwater archaeologist and author, teamed up to write the book. Previously, Pepe and Zarzynski collaborated on producing three feature-length award-winning documentaries about historic shipwrecks as well as creating several “mini-docs” for screening in museums, art galleries, and visitor centers. Continue reading

Place-Based Learning And Common Core Summer Institute


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Arnold WiltzAshokanDam1930CompressedEducators throughout the Hudson Valley are being invited to discover new and innovative ways to incorporate the region’s special places into their curriculum at Teaching the Hudson Valley’s 2013 institute, Place-Based Learning & Common Core. Registration is now open. The program will be held July 30-August 1 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

In a variety of workshops, field experiences, and talks, the institute will explore whether place-based learning techniques can help educators meet the demands of Common Core while continuing to focus on kids. Sessions will be led by local experts from throughout the Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Kingston Senate House History Camp Planned


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Kingston-senate-houseSenate House State Historic Site in Kingston is offering special activities for children ages 8-12. It will give children an opportunity to learn about life in 18th century Kingston. This three-day program runs from August 6-8, 10am-3pm.

Activities include hearthside cooking, churning butter, making wampum and cornhusk dolls, 18thc.games, and more. The fee is $75 per child and registration is required. Please call the site at (845) 338-2786 to register. Hurry , the program is limited to 20 participants. Continue reading

Student Historians Exhibit:
WWII Photography and Propaganda


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WWII & NYC at Governors IslandFrom unearthing black-and-white photos of New York Harbor to planting an authentic Victory Garden, New-York Historical Society high school Student Historians paint a vivid picture of World War II-era New York in WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda, a new exhibition on Governors Island.

Installed within a 19th-century home previously used by military officers during World War II and other conflicts, the exhibition prompts visitors to consider a time when virtually every aspect of New York life was transformed to support Allied victory. WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda will be on view with hands-on activities for families on Saturdays and Sundays from July 13 through September 2. Continue reading