Friday, 17 December 2010

Thoughts from a Grade 9 Brain

One great part of my job is the Thank You letters I receive from students. As another year wraps up, I thought I would share some of my favourite snippets from a grade 9 class.

In October, we took a grade 9 class to Mountain View Cemetery to learn Lethbridge history and discuss the biographies of some Lethbridge people. The students were each assigned a person and researched that individual both before and after the tour.

“While on the tour I learned that a lot of miners died while working on [sic] the mine. The thing that I liked most about the tour was the worksheets you made us do.” – I see a future in Archives for this student.

“I liked how we got to miss school to go to the graveyard and I liked how we got to learn about our people for our project.” -- It’s not really “missing school” when you come with your teachers.

“Learning how to tell about someone’s life and what they liked by looking for certain things on their headstone & footstone is pretty cool. Thank you so much for putting up with us for the morning and teaching us about the different things you can find in a graveyard.” – I, too, think the history to be found in a graveyard is “pretty cool.” And, spending much of my time working with elementary students, it was fun to work with grade 9 students for a change.

“You didn’t show us the guy I was researching, but the information you gave on everyone else was helpful.” – What can I say? Sorry.

“I didn’t really learn much about Winston Churchill but that’s because he wasn’t in that graveyard.” -- No, but I wish he was. It would make my tours that much more interesting.

“I appreciate that you walked around in the cold so we could learn. It was interesting to learn about all these people that used to live in Lethbridge. It was also helpful.” AND “Many of us learned things about the famous people that we were researching about. But we would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so cold out.” -- Outdoor tours would be much more comfortable if they weren’t outdoors.

“I really enjoyed learning about new people and Lethbridge’s history….I honestly didn’t mind doing the worksheet because I learned a lot about our history that I had no idea about and now I know what symbols in a cemetery mean.” -- I’m so glad you see it as ‘our history’. What I find compelling about cemetery history is that it is democratic . Everyone – rich or poor, old or young, worker or owner, man or woman – ends up in the cemetery and it tells the story of the entire community.

“Thank you very much for spending your time with us to show us around the cemetery. We all very enjoyed the experience! You did a very good job at teaching us.” – Thank you.

“We all really appreciate it. I thought that what you taught us was really interesting. I think it is really cool that you research and care so much about people that you have never met before.” – It’s one of the occupational hazards of being a historian – people don’t seem interesting until they’re dead.

“It’s pretty amazing that you know all the facts, let alone remember everything about these people and how they died.” -- Don’t tell anyone, but I just make it all up. Kidding, of course. I’m lucky to have one of those memories where facts and figures stick in my head.

Thank you to all of the students, teachers, and parents who visited the Galt for education programs in 2010 – all 9920 students and 1715 adults!!! See you in 2011.

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