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Saturday, April 21, 2018

The One-Room Schoolteacher Looks at Education

Crack the Whip - by Winslow Homer (public domain, but at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in U.S.)
Earlier this month my One-Room Schoolteacher program was presented at Reminisce programs in a pair of Capital Area District Libraries.  I also am booked this summer for a one-room school reunion.  All of this had me reviewing the program.  Online the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Directory has a video clip from an earlier performance of the program on YouTube.  I have been given continued acceptance in the directories and will be continuing in 2019-2021.  Can't recall when I first went into the directory, it's been so long!, but the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Grants are an excellent source for state non-profit financial assistance.  I further commend and support the Michigan Humanities Council for their work on behalf of our state's cultural climate and remember their grant-writing workshops from when I was writing successful mini-grants as a librarian.  They even have an online video to help learn how to write grants!  Our state Humanities Council works hard to help even the most remote location here in Michigan.  I've always found the staff helpful, so contact them by phone, email, or fax with your questions and comments.

While looking at my complete program I noticed an audience question about when the grading system changed to letter grades.  The best answer comes from a site called Classroom which gave the History of Grading Systems.  Colleges wanting to evaluate applicants were the first to seek a standard method.  Online discussions there make me aware that the percentages for an A, B, C, et cetera may differ as well as being controversial, but their paragraph on early K-12 grades shows evaluation shifted when compulsory education began.  Suddenly the number of U.S. public high schools went from 500 to 10,000 in the forty years from 1870 to 1910.  In my program about Liberetta Lerich Green I often mention her daughter Loa, who was a bit of an educational pioneer here in Michigan, including teaching science at Big Rapids when it was one of those few early high schools.  She will be the subject of a future article here.

Teachers have always found grading the least enjoyable part of their duties.  A fellow storyteller, Anthony Burcher, tells the following story and swears it's true.
"True story: during one of my Freshman years in college, this senior, her name was Bernadine, had a professor not turn in her grades on time and they were not going to let her graduate. A lot of us went to the dean's office, sat on his lawn and began chanting, 'Bernadine, Bernadine!' In hindsight, it was not our best chant and did explain why a lot of us got arrested for making threats."

If that doesn't make sense, read it out loud.

Oh, Anthony!

Well back to serious stuff.  Did you realize that McGuffey, yes, the one behind more than a century of Readers, believed in bringing fun into the classroom?   O.k. we may not think of Spelling Bees in that category, but it was revolutionary back in the 19th century from his origins as a "roving" teacher at the age of 14, beginning with 48 students in a one-room school.  His students brought their own books, most frequently the Bible, since few textbooks existed.  Try having a union contract with that class size and conditions!  Wikipedia has the usual articles on him and his Readers, but the same information and more originated with and can be found in the New World Encyclopedia  article about him.  I love his instruction to teachers to read aloud to their classes.  This statue honoring him has an interesting rear.
Frank R. Snyder at Miami U. posted these on Wikimedia Commons


I didn't realize the McGuffey's Readers most used from 1879 on were not by him nor was their content approved by him even though they carried his name.  Those are the readers most people know and use, including my One-Room Schoolteacher persona.  An unnamed newspaper article came in one of my books saying that "Although royalty payments from his famous Readers had ceased long before he arrived in Virginia (LoiS: 1845 according to New World Encyclopedia), McGuffey eventually received some additional funds for later revisions.  And after the Civil War, the grateful publishers also gave him an annuity--a barrel of choice smoked hams every Christmas."

Here in the greater Detroit area Henry Ford's attributed his own education and moral views to the Readers, but they were McGuffey's original series.  The original books were criticized for their anti-minority ethnic and religious views with Native Americans called "savages" and anti-Semitic comments typical of the 1830s.  The attempt of the later edition according to the current publisher, John Wiley & Sons was "to meet the needs of national unity and the dream of an American 'melting pot' for the worlds' oppressed masses."  Today we may object to some of those earlier views the New World Encyclopedia attributes as "Most prominent post-Civil War and turn-of-the-century American figures credited their initial success in learning to the Readers, which provided a guide to what was occurring in the public school movement and in American culture during the nineteenth century."

That same unnamed newspaper tells about Henry Ford's purchase of the McGuffey family home and barn near Youngstown, Ohio and taking the barn timbers to make a one-room school.  (LoiS: it must have been just over the state line as The Henry Ford lists it as being originally in Pennsylvania.)  Ford's Greenfield Village is where you can see those buildings among others at this major tourist attraction here in Dearborn in the shadow of a Ford factory. 

The Henry Ford website had those two items among 42 on their own One-Room Schools collection.  For students about to visit a one-room school or others of us interested in one-room schools, their online digitized collection is worth visiting.

In my talking with attendees to my program I find they regret the loss of religious values -- the revised Readers retain religious views without the "Calvinist values of salvation, righteousness, and piety, so prominent in the early Readers." (I'm not sure if that quote originates with the New World Encyclopedia or the publishers of the Wiley editions.  My own revised editions are reprints predating Wiley.) 

Another major complaint is the loss of cursive writing in today's schools.  It has become a mystery to today's children with adults at the programs complaining children can't read the letters they have sent to them.  One grandparent even talked about sitting down with her grandchild, showing the importance of having a signature, and helping create one.  We're heading back to the days where the illiterate signed by making an X!

Here are the final two lessons, LI and LII (yes, Roman numerals for 51 and 52) in the very earliest book, the Primer, given to children as young as five.  It shows these more secular, but still religious values, and is followed by "slate exercises."  Each lesson opens with new vocabulary.  Some of the earlier lessons include sentences in manuscript or cursive writing as early as lesson five.  Could today's five year old students manage that?  I don't give all of the penmanship exercises here, but, maybe the final page of the script alphabet will be helpful showing the upper and lower case letters. 
 
I was taught to write a few of my own letters differently, but can usually decipher earlier handwriting when reading historical documents.  Will today's children be able to do that if they can't even read messages accompanying their birthday gifts?

If you are interested in bringing my grant-qualifying programs, including the One-Room Schoolteacher, check out my website at http://www.lois-sez.com/ and also contact me. 



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pyle - How the Good Gifts Were Used by Two - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

School Spring Breaks ended this past week where I have school residencies.  That plus two other programs has made for a busy week.  For some crazy reason that helped me wake up thinking of a story I like but have never told.  I remembered it being told (and illustrated) by Howard Pyle, but almost missed it because it starts out with a visit from Saint Nicholas who gives a gift that was not the part I remembered.  The story has that first visit, but I'm going to give only the barest part of the introduction and skip to the second half where Saint Christopher visits.  It's perfectly complete by itself.  If you want to read the whole thing, go to Pyle's The Wonder Clock at Archive.org.  (The story starts on page 123, which is officially Ten O'Clock as the book is organized to be a story for each hour.)

One other quick note, my copy of this book originally published in 1887 is bound so tightly the "gutter" (the part in the center of two pages where it is held to the binding) is a bit fuzzy when I reproduce it.  I've done all I can to enhance it here, but it starts out a bit challenging.
Saint Nicholas's visit is omitted and we continue on page 128 with Saint Christopher visiting the same two brothers.
Pyle's version almost fooled me, starting with an earlier visit, but it's a type of story about the Wise and the Foolish, specifically wishes that have you doing all day what you begin.  Estonia and Finland tell the story as sneezing all day.  Sweden has a more complicated version with legs breaking, nose pulling and a fish being the one to grant wishes.  There are also many stories with the saints traveling down to earth, but this is the one that started my day.

If you want to keep on doing all day what you're doing now, there's plenty of stories here to read!
********************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Schoolcraft (Judd) - Opeechee the Robin Redbreast

The calendar officially says the first day of summer is 75 days from now (April 7)!  I would appreciate spring coming, too, thank you.
Photo by Joshua Little http://littlebirder.blogspot.com/2014/03
Every year I always see a few robins sitting in the snow.  They always look like southern gentlemen with their chests stuck out proudly with an orange vest.


April is a fickle month.  I've seen some doozies of snow storms in April, even as the days lengthen, early spring flowers start to pop up  and grass begins to turn green.

As long as there is food available, American Robins may stay north in cold climates. Photo by Chuck Porter via Birdshare.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology's blog, All About Birds, says many robins may not migrate.  Take a look at the article, "Is it unusual to see American Robins in the middle of winter?"  According to them, the non-migrating robins change their behavior to find food, but in spring revert back to the worm-catching we see all over our lawns.

Michigan's state bird is officially the robin -- although I'd say the mosquito would be more accurate.  I've heard and read many versions of the Anishinaabe pourquois tale of how robins came to be.  Mary Catherine Judd in Wigwam Stories only calls herself the book's compiler and says she has "gone directly to the works of Schoolcraft", but I prefer her retelling to the one Schoolcraft published and also find its conclusion is closer to the telling I have heard from Anishinaabe elders and friends.



Stay warm, if you have a bird feeder, fill it, and lets hope spring comes SOON!
********************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Most Important Story

Of all the stories this storyteller could tell, this is the most important. . .

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.
~ Clarence W. Hall

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Schoolcraft - Peboan and Seegwun (take 2 & call me in the morning) - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Have you ever felt so awful you didn't think you could fight your way out of a paper bag...

Germs are so sneaky.  I ate some leftovers from my husband and then the next day he came down with a cold.  Guess what?  Yup, I have it now, too.  It started to tease me Wednesday night and then began getting more obvious on Thursday.  Now? 

Can't begin to do justice to posting anything, but have a story I was able to croak out on Thursday and did a search here.  Yep, posted it here March 28, 2015.  Wasn't going to repeat it, but I felt better then.  Some people advise re-posting some of your better or more important posts.  Don't plan to do that after all the years I've been doing this, but today it seems like a good idea.

Here are a few reasons why besides the way I feel:
  • It's a great story and I realized after telling it and giving the names in Anishinaabe and saying my pronunciation might be off, I should have told the story and then asked the class if they knew who Peboan and Seegwun were.  (The names mean Winter and Spring.)  Here's a quick beginner Anishinaabe dictionary, complete with pronunciation guide.  You will notice a difference in spelling as the language varies with local dialects because no standard writing system represents all and none is primary.  I could say more, but right now doubt it would interest you unless you're really into linguistics.  I have one friend who is into linguistics, so I would gladly give her other resources.  I have friends here in Michigan who are People of the Three Fires and they love their native language and are far better at it than I will ever be as a "Long knife."  Suffice it to say the language's complexity rivals Russian and I remember an elder working on her doctorate grumbling about having to learn yet another language.
  • The end of this posting includes reasons why it deserves attention in Women's History month.
  • Don't remember what else...I told you I wasn't functioning normally.  Just know that much of the country is still experiencing winter no matter what the foolish Groundhog predicted and the calendar claims we entered spring this past week.  Saw robins twice this past week, but then every year I see a few sitting in the snow.  Soon sneezes and sniffles and congestion will be due to spring allergens.
LoiS(pring...what a concept!)

It's been a busy week here at Lake Wobegon -- Woops! that's Garrison Keillor's great introduction to the news from his fictional town.  Still it has been a busy week of storytelling and beyond, so I thought I'd just give a very short Anishinaabe tale about how the weather is here in Michigan at this time.  I will, but typical of Storytelling + Research = LoiS it led to some interesting research after the story.  (Wish I'd known those symbols couldn't become part of the website address when I titled this blog!)

For a family literacy event completing March Reading Month I included this story.



That comes from the 1856 book originally published in 1839 under the authorship of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft as The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians and easily found on Project Gutenberg.  Also there is the bit more approachable title of "The Winter Spirit and His Visitor" in his 1916 The Indian Fairy Book , which has revisions and new colored illustrations.  In that revised and republished book I found it interesting the Foreword claims, "Mr. Schoolcraft listened and wrote the stories down, just as he heard them."  By then his first wife, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, had died back in 1842.  Searching for more on the story Henry isn't listed at all, but her portrait came up on the Homestead.org site,
as well as the statement "In this case the storyteller Schoolcraft is translating is her mother Ozhaguscodaywayquay."  Homestead also gives a picture of a winter lodge, which looks rather like a tipi made of small logs and branches, and the flower H.R.S. identifies as the Miskodeed or Claytonia Virginica, commonly called Spring Beauty.

So did the man whose name is honored here in Michigan in both an Upper Peninsula county and a metro Detroit college provide enough to the stories to be called the author of the books?  Surely his wife's contribution is obvious, but a 2008 book edited by Robert Dale Parker published all her writings, including poetry.

The title, by the way, The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky, is her Anishinaabe name.  I've also seen her Anglicized name as Susan.












A beautiful 1993 picture book of the story by illustrator, Charles Larry, was reviewed by both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly as a riddle/myth.  It's definitely a myth, but the identification of Winter and Spring doesn't have to wait until the end.  (Even H.R. Schoolcraft identifies it in the title as an allegory of the two.)  In a Goodreads review by Kristin the story is faulted for it's lack of action.  Universally the illustrations are praised even by Kristin, but as Publishers Weekly notes, there's certainly "vivid language."


Those of us experiencing this time of seasonal transition can certainly appreciate the way Winter tries to stay, but we trust Spring will eventually take over.

Too often this area's Native contribution is overlooked when considering Native Americans. As a result I was delighted to find the Charles Larry book included in Karri Smith's Mini-Unit on Native Americans aimed at First Graders.

As the Farmer’s Almanac says: it’s easy to understand the draw of the Ojibwe’s more poetic explanation. After all, even today, we still talk about 'Old Man Winter.'

I would add that the information on Jane Johnston Schoolcraft is also appropriate as we come to the end of Women's History Month.
********************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!