Class Notes, January 24, 2011

   On Tuesday, we discussed Martin Luther King, his inspiration from Gandhi, and Gandhi’s inspiration from Henry David Thoreau’s  “The Duty of Civil Disobedience“; and my family’s close relationship with Dr. King’s struggle. My father, as a prominent Union Organizer in the NYC area, attended, along with Paul Robson, the famed singer and actor, and Howard Fast, author of  Spartacus, the first Civil Rights Congress in NY in the early fifties. My dad organized big holiday parties in Madison Square Garden for union members and their children from all the different unions in the greater metropolitan area. Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others donated their talents to entertain the working families. My dad was even presented an award for his work in bringing people together , by Ed Sullivan himself on the Ed Sullivan Show. For this and other progressive acts he was “red-baited” by the Detroit UAW, and hounded by the FBI and McCarthy’s minions.
My mother, one of the cofounders of Victory Day Care Center, one of the first in the country, with her colleagues from Bank Street College, worked with a woman named Schwerner. My mom watched her son, Mickey, grow up; he was one of the three Civil Rights Workers killed in Mississippi, and memorialized in the book and movie ” Mississippi Burning“. We discussed the Peekskill NY riots. Then I showed the kids a poster size sepia newspaper photo of my dad and Duke Ellington.
   We worked with number sequence and patterns, then included numbers, letters and shapes in simple and complex repeating patterns. The children all made up their own patterns, wrote them on the board and challenged their classmates to complete the next step. We moved two opposite septagrams, with seven points each, seperately then simultaneously; then we drew the shapes we had moved as a group, in space, in our books as a geometric drawing exercise. We also moved two hexagons in opposite direction, clockwise and counter-clockwise, arcing in and then arcing out. We drew these shapes also using compasses and rulers. It took patience and concentration to get the drawings right.
   After learning about specific carpentry tools and materials, we began working on our models of the Cornell Suspension Bridge. The students were active in helping work out the design and materials needed for the models.   We had a successful and interesting story-writing class in the cozy meeting room at the firehouse, and some of the students shared a wonderfully varied array of creations. To sharpen their memories we used a big fabric map of the US, to re-memorize all the states and capitals; then we’ll try the same methods one continent at a time.                                                      

   On Thursday some students and I worked on the windmill at the Sciencenter, walked to the lighthouse on the inlet, and visited the science/art exhibit of the Nano car at the Johnson Art Museum. I’m considering a Thursday work project day, doing hands-on community work.

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