Thursday, June 30, 2011

Charter Schools in Maine

After many years resisting the development of charter schools, the Maine Legislature has passed Charter School Legislation and Governor LePage has signed LD 1553 into law. Two features of the legislation are particularly interesting:
7. Teachers – All full-time teachers in charter schools must either hold an appropriate teaching certificate or become certified within three years of the date they are hired, excepting those with an advanced degree, professional certification, or unique expertise and/or experience in the curricular area they teach. ...
9. Virtual Chartered Schools – LD 1553 adopts the language of the national model bill that defines and allows virtual chartered schools.
I'm interested to see how these develop.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stowe's Brunswick and Bowdoin

The Stowe Society's "Stowe at 200" Conference included a walking tour of sites in Brunswick associated with Stowe. Polly Kaufman lead the tour starting at the Pjepscot Historical Society building. Fifty or more people participated with a small number from the Stowe Society, a few more from the conference and most from the general public in the area.

Dr. Kaufman carried photocopies of some notes and images of interest. I found the following image from collections at the New York Public Library via Wikimedia Commons that shows sites more as Stowe experienced them.

Bowdoin College 1845
By Lane & Scott, FitzHugh Lane [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The most easily identified buildings in the lithograph from the left are: First Parrish Church, Massachusetts Hall, Winthrop Hall, Maine Hall, Bowdoin Chapel, and Appleton Hall. Dr. Kaufman related the story of Harriet Beecher Stowe using her husband's office in Massachusetts Hall to write parts of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Note a confusion in local informal history. The Bowdoin publication "Academic Spotlight" in an article "Tracing Lasting, Local Footprints of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'" relates the story of a student tour guide who incorrectly identifies the site of Calvin Stowe's office as Appleton Hall.
As a student tour guide for Bowdoin's Office of Admissions, Tom Brickler '10 had led dozens of prospective students past Appleton Hall.
Stopping, he would say: "It was here, where Harriet Beecher Stowe sometimes worked on the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin." For full dramatic effect, he might add the words: "writing late into the stormy winter night."
The author of the Spotlight article suggests:
Though it is campus legend, no one knows for sure if Stowe—the wife of a Bowdoin professor—actually worked there during the years that she wrote the novel in Brunswick. But it hardly matters: The compulsion to imagine and re-imagine the daily existence of luminaries connected to Bowdoin—including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Joshua Chamberlain, and Nathaniel Hawthorne—is part of the ambience of being at such a historically significant college.
While it may "hardly matter" to casual visitors and some reporters, it clearly matters to Stowe enthusiasts and scholars. If these kinds of historical resources were more easily accessible, then perhaps we can increase the number of people who care about the historical details.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tracing Lasting, Local Footprints of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'

Tracing Lasting, Local Footprints of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', Academic Spotlight (Bowdoin)

Bowdoin's Academic Spotlight on Tess Chakkalakal's course on using place-based resources to connect with 21st Century reading of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Includes a brief video clip of a class held in the First Parrish Church:

Can we build digital resources to support asynchronous access to experiences similar to this.