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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another New Year

2012 has arrived. Indeed it has. With it comes a new project at school. I have decided that for the spring play the middle school will rewrite THE PRINCE & THE PAUPER for 1912 New Haven, CT. Why, you ask? An excellent question! This is our school's centennial year. We spend a fair amount of time pointing that out, but there has, as far as I can tell, been little discussion of what that actually means. What was the world like when our little country day school started? How did people spend their time? What were their struggles? Why would that be the time to start a a small private day school?

Answering just a few of those questions is half the reason. The other half has become more and more complicated as I have thought about the project. 1912 was an amazing time in our history. The labor movement was really kicking into gear. The Bread and Roses strike of Lawrence, MA took place in the winter of 1912. The Titanic sank in April of that year. The Triangle Shirtwaist fire was the year before. The relationship between the rich and poor was in flux. The working class was joining together in a movement that resulted in a healthy and robust middle class...until now. At a time when the discussion of class is re-emerging, and in a year that our small school community reflects on its origin (one that coincides with the development of the middle class), it seems appropriate to engage the students about where we've come from and where we are.

My students are privileged, there's no doubt. I'm excited to see how they grapple with a project that could force them to face certain inequities of which they are beneficiaries. I plan to keep posting about it...I really mean it this time. I do!