Monday, October 15, 2018

On Nellie Bly and Her Mad-House

On Nellie Bly and Her Mad-House: Getting yourself committed to an insane asylum (on purpose) is no easy task. But as an investigative journalist, Nellie Bly had to get the scoop on what exactly was happening at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Roosevelt Island in New York City. The year was 1887, and Bly had recently left her job at the Pittsburgh Dispatch to move to NYC and work for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. And as one of her first assignments, she went undercover to expose the dark underbelly of American lunatic asylums. Bly faked insanity while living at a women's boardinghouse. Having been examined by a psychiatrist, they committed her to the asylum. While there, she experienced the wretched conditions of asylum life firsthand. Many of the patients were actually sane immigrants, but they simply could not speak English. Clean clothes and edible food were hard to find, and torture (sitting on straight-back benches, wearing straight-jackets, etc.) seemed to be the only daily activity. Bly was released after ten days, and ultimately published a book about her findings.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

On Abolition and Women's Rights (1840s/50s)

On Abolition and Women's Rights (1840s/50s): In the 1840s, multiple social movements gained momentum in American politics. From abolition (of slavery) to nativism (anti-immigration) to suffrage (women's rights), many Americans in the 1840s (especially those of the emerging middle class) were becoming aware of the changing cultural attitudes in society at large. Undoubtedly, the primary catalyst for these changing attitudes was industrialization, as increasing numbers of people were able to obtain employment in the growing economy. By the late 1840s, two of these movements started to develop concurrently. Abolition and women's rights saw their first major overlap in July 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in Upstate New York. At the Convention, there were three competing visions that needed to be reconciled. One vision was that of Susan B. Anthony, who (representing white women) advocated for voting rights over ending slavery. Another vision included Sojourner Truth, who (representing free black women) pushed for both abolition and suffrage at the same time. The final vision involved the likes of Frederick Douglass, who (representing free black men) encouraged abolition over women's rights.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On Political Cartoons and the Anti-Imperialists

On Political Cartoons and the Anti-Imperialists: The above cartoon appeared in Harper's Weekly in September 1900. It depicts a fiery President McKinley firing a cannon into an effigy mocking him and the pageantry of imperialism. One October night in 1898, McKinley claimed to have been visited by God in a dream, Who told him to start building an American empire. The first step in that empire-building process would be war with Spain, which enabled the U.S. to acquire territories like Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. At the same time, however, there was a growing cohort of Americans who viewed these imperial acquisitions with disdain. Led in part by two Massachusetts Senators, George Boutwell and George Hoar, the Anti-Imperialist League actively opposed the McKinley/Roosevelt administrations in their attempts to expand America's power/reach around the world. The primary argument put forth by the anti-imperialists was that the U.S. got its start as a country thanks to anti-imperialism. Why did the country now want to take the same path as Britain or Spain? Imperial empires only seem to end in disaster.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

On Instructional Scaffolding

On Instructional Scaffolding: During the learning process, some students need extra support when accessing the curriculum. One of the teacher's primary goals should always be to make the curriculum as accessible as possible. Instructional scaffolding is one such strategy that teachers can employ to achieve this goal. At the start of each class, it behooves the teacher to set the tone for the period (usually by having students complete an opening task). Quick notes (bullet points) or sentence frames are some of the better ways to get students to respond. After a brief discussion of the opener, the teacher can move toward sequencing and/or guiding the lesson. This is generally marked by an activity (group work, pair-share, etc.). After giving instructions for the primary activity, the teacher's role ought to gradually dissipate as the class moves forward. This dissipation allows students to take charge of their learning, which is the main objective behind scaffolding. As the class nears its end, however, the teacher should step back in to synthesize leftover thoughts and reaffirm upcoming tasks.

Friday, June 15, 2018

On Henry Flagler and Florida's Atlantic Coast

On Henry Flagler and Florida's Atlantic Coast: As a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company in Ohio during the 1860s (along with John D. Rockefeller), Flagler later committed his substantial wealth into developing Florida's Atlantic coastline. He first visited the area around St. Augustine in the 1880s to help manage his first wife's illness. While there, Flagler saw Florida's enormous potential for growth given its plethora of natural resources. To facilitate such growth, Flagler started the Florida East Coast Railway, which originally ran from Jacksonville to Miami, but later continued on to Key West. By the time of Flager's death in 1913, his railroad's impact on Florida's Atlantic coastline was unmistakable. Resort towns and manufacturing communities from West Palm Beach to Fort Pierce to Melbourne began to sprout up along the railroad's route. Specific examples of Flagler's legacy on Floridian tourism include the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College), the Breakers Hotel (Palm Beach), and the Royal Palm Hotel (Miami).