Forum Journal & Forum Focus

Four Case Studies: A Brief Look at Some Successful Implementations 

12-09-2015 17:35

Drayton Hall, built circa 1738-42, was acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974 because of its architectural significance and unique state of preservation. Located on the banks of the Ashley River outside of Charleston, South Carolina, the house was held by seven generations of the Drayton family and survived a tumultuous history of war, natural disasters, and "progress" to remain the finest example of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the country. The interiors have only been painted once in each century, and there are areas in which the original paint is intact. Rooms boast exceptional hand-carved wood moldings and paneled walls. The building has never had electricity or plumbing added and remains unrestored and unfurnished. The main house sits on its original 350 acres; one other eighteenth century outbuilding still stands. Other historical resources critical to the property include archaeological sites, primary documents, artifacts, furniture, landscape, photographs, paintings, maps, genealogical materials, and oral history accounts.

Providing programs and materials for schools is a natural extension of our museum work to research, interpret, and preserve the site. The buildings provide a chronology of more than 250 years of history; the landscape and archaeological sites date back to prehistoric times. The architecture not only reveals historical evidence of technology, trade, and colonization, but also poses problems in math, science, and art. Natural history, geography, agriculture, economics, and current issues in ecology can all be explored on the grounds.

Family history and African-American resources involve students in firsthand accounts of the development of the nation. The process of investigating these resources builds skills in critical and creative thinking because all of our programs use the inquiry approach to teaching. We start with the student and work toward the coordinated objectives of the site and the school curriculum.


HOUSE TOUR (Grades K-12)
Learn to Read A Building!

Students learn "how we know what we know" through a ninety-minute house-tour program designed to introduce the concept of "reading" a building. Coordinated with curriculum objectives and the abilities of each class and grade level, the program helps students discover the general history of the site by investigating the house`s architecture, landscape, and archaeological sites. They discuss elements of Georgian-Palladian design, construction methods, plantation economy and agriculture, daily life, social customs, African-American contributions, local history, and national events associated with the property. The program is easily adaptable to a specific curriculum focus--first graders learn shapes and numbers from the house`s geometry and details, world history students research the influences of ancient Greece and Rome, a music class studies elements of rhythm, tempo, balance, volume, and style in composition, for example.

A significant question guiding this program is, how will understanding architecture inform us about ourselves and our world? Drayton Hall`s goal is for all visitors to see how buildings reveal the story of people`s needs, culture, values, and resources. We want visitors to consider ways in which bricks and mortar represent the history of a whole community, not just of the owner, architect, or mason.

ARCHAEOLOGY (Grades 4-12)
Diaries in the Dirt and Plantation Excavation

"Diaries in the Dirt" is a forty-five-minute program that provides students with a look at how archaeology is used as a research tool. Students are put in the archaeologists` place of uncovering the history of the building once known as "the office." Using oral-history accounts, architectural clues, documents, artifacts, and photographs of the actual excavation, students piece together a time line of events that helps them interpret the site as "the privy." The process underscores the limitations of oral history and the necessity of considering a variety of primary sources in research.

"Plantation Excavation" goes a step further by allowing students to participate in a three hour model excavation. Our purpose is not to train students or teachers to become archaeologists, but to expose them to the meticulous process archaeologists use to preserve and record the context of the artifacts at a site. Students work in teams to map, excavate, sift, wash, label, and analyze our study collection of artifacts as they are unearthed from a layered, seeded pit. Half of the program is devoted to learning to analyze an object for material, type, date, and use and then to interpret its significance based on the context in which it was found. Indiana Jones is used as a model for what today`s archaeologists are not, and careful attention is given to emphasizing the value of preserving archaeological resources from vandals and amateur collectors.

To enhance the visual lessons of the housetour program, students become builders` apprentices for the day. Donning eighteenthcentury work shirts, they go back in time through storytelling and an indenture document to experience the building process from beginning to end. Activities include discussing the rules and moral codes found in apprenticeship indentures; writing with quill pens; constructing English and Flemish bond walls, herringbone-patterned floors, and mortiseand-tenon framing; using old tools for wood carving; creating and pouring molds for decorative plasterwork; and splitting shingles or hanging slate for roofs. Students compare old and new tools and decide which type of craftsman they would want to be if they went into the field of preservation.

Game Day addresses the question, what was it like to be a child long ago? Students, teachers, and parents find out through a round-robin field day of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century games played on the lawn. Parents participate by learning the games in a workshop held at school. As game leaders they assist in the day and share their own memories about games they played growing up. Together adults and students bridge the gap between past and present.


The Junior Docent Program integrates Drayton Hall into the middle-school language-arts curriculum and trains students to be tour guides for other students. Using Drayton Hall as the subject of reading, research, and reporting, students develop their own tour and become ambassadors for the property.

City Search brings resources and workshops for studying Charleston`s history through architecture to classrooms and teacher-training programs. Architectural posters, field guides, teaching activities, and annotated bibliographies have been developed specifically for this program in a cooperative effort with the Historic Charleston Foundation and local teachers.

Archaeology at Large provides slide programs, artifact analysis, and activities for understanding archaeological method and resources in the classroom.

The education and research department also provides local-history workshops, slide programs, materials, and activities specifically tailored to teacher requests.


The general packet offers lesson plans, discussion and research questions, slides and a slide script, topic essays, reproduced documents, and an annotated bibliography. The archaeology packet provides lesson plans, activities, a glossary, current articles, and a bibliography. Posters, outreach materials, and books from our gift shop are also available.


The wealth and complexity of these programs evolved within the past decade in response to teacher needs, student interest, and our own solutions for effective teaching. The multidisciplinary house tour began as a simple scavenger hunt requested by a teacher. Teachers who make suggestions for programs or materials often become primary consultants for projects. Specialists in content or teaching approaches are asked to provide expertise. For instance, physical education teachers helped develop Game Day by outlining the skill levels and physical capabilities of elementary students, architectural historians consulted on the research for City Search, and a historic preservation intern provided architectural illustrations for materials. The excavation program was designed by a staff archaeologist, and a local preservation contractor and an antique tool collector helped develop the preservation workshop program and trained the staff. The Junior Docent Program was a collaborative effort begun in 1984 with a local teacher whose innovative methods for teaching language arts have recently been developed into a national textbook series, Success. Programs cannot be created in a vacuum.

Outlines and objectives are devised for piloting programs with volunteer classes. Teachers and students are interviewed after each program to determine strengths and weaknesses. The staff reviews their experiences and student observations in roundtable discussions. Revisions are based upon a consensus assessment, and the program is tried and reviewed a number of times over a six-month period. Materials and programs remain under constant informal evaluation by staff and teachers. We seek feedback after every program and send out formal evaluation surveys once a year.


The education and research department is staffed by a curator and two assistants to administer research, interpretation, school programs, and staff training. Four part-time paid teacher/guides, who are also regular interpreters, assist in teaching school programs. Teacher/guides are selected for their backgrounds in teaching and/or natural abilities in engaging young people. Training involves mastering the regular interpretation program, observing ongoing student programs, and teaching with objects. Materials and instruction are provided for using the inquiry approach. Posing a barrage of key questions quickly motivates students to connect with ideas and information. The secret is practice. All interpreters and teacher/guides have an ongoing program of staff development through lecture series. workshops, newsletters, and discussion groups. Evaluations of subject knowledge and presentation skills are made through checklists, interviews, and peer review.


Last year more than 4,000 students participated in on-site programs during the school year. They came from across the state, region, and sometimes the country. Well over half are repeat visitors from year to year; some schools and teachers have been with us for almost a decade. Our long-term relationship with area schools has resulted in our being adopted as part of the curriculum in certain programs. We are included on officially approved field-trip lists, and in recent years have been included in the state social studies textbooks for grades three and eight. The most effective advertising is word of mouth, but we supplement with site brochures, program posters, and cooperative mailings and publications with other historic sites and museums in the area.

Our success in working with teachers and the curriculum coordinator comes from an ongoing effort to meet with them and to ask where we may be of assistance. South Carolina`s statewide social studies coordinator and our local South Carolina Instructional Technology specialist have opened major lines of communication for us with teachers across the state. We find that teachers need to know that museums and historic sites are like libraries: Some are more available to the public than others, but all offer invaluable resources if you know how to use them.


G I N N Y   G R A V E S

Showing teachers and preservationists how to use the actual site, the actual city, and the actual school neighborhood as a library for studying their community heritage works. Math, reading, writing, science, geography, history, communication skills, art, music, and physical education can be taught using the artifacts of this great outdoor museum our city or town. Teachers can use streetscapes, buildings, natural sites, monuments, and the area around the school itself to increase visual-literacy skills.

Once educators acquire the tools and hands-on experience exciting things begin to happen in the classroom. Many educators have changed the way they teach and are now using the built environment as a focus for developing curricula. Who are the students who measured and mapped their own classroom, their own school their own school neighborhood? Who are the students who learned the organizational skills of documenting their city for a city walking tour? Who are the students who "adopted" a round barn and kept that particular visual memory of an earlier rural setting from becoming a parking lot? Who are the students who discovered a pre-Civil War building unknown to state authorities? They are students whose teachers learned visual-literacy skills.

What`s important is providing the translation between what preservationists and planners know and the needs of the teacher in the classroom. Sometimes this can be accomplished by a joint effort between the theorist and a hands-on practitioner--an excited volunteer, a neighborhood activist, a skilled crafter, an eloquent architect, a dedicated city planner.

There are many efforts to incorporate visual literacy into curriculum models and state assessment tests. The Kentucky effort is exceptional: The Kentucky Consortium, working with the state of Kentucky on core concepts, is developing specific tasks that use visual-literacy skills. Dr. Kathy Loncar at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, has produced a curricular index to conform to the teacher-produced curriculum, Walk Around the Block. Individual teachers are writing visual-literacy activities into their school- and state-curriculum objectives.

There are many programs. It would be difficult to mention them all. One of the most successful is Tampa Preservation`s ongoing effort to train every fourth-grade teacher in Hillsborough County in visual literacy using the excellent neighborhood guides they have produced. The Texas Preservation Alliance is using the vehicle of the Texas Historical Society`s state social studies summer conference to train teachers around the state. A longstanding program is the Missouri Council of Architects"`Teach the Teachers," which concentrates on graduate courses for teachers offered through a number of universities. It has provided in-depth training for more than 4,500 teachers since 1983. An annual summer training session in the Kansas City area in conjunction with the University of Kansas attracts educators and preservation/architecture organization volunteers from around the country.


J A M E S   P E R C O C O

At West Springfield High School in northern Virginia we have integrated the heritage-education approach into an applied history course offered as a one-credit elective social studies course. The course provides students with a hands-on, practical approach to studying history. During the first semester, students are introduced to historiography, archival work, museum studies, historic preservation, history through film, and heritage education. They learn from practitioners in these areas from federal, state, and local organizations. During the second semester these same students participate in an internship program at a local historic site, museum, or related placement. Students are required to work a minimum of five hours per week throughout the semester and to participate in the History Day competition.

Mastery objectives for the applied history course include: understanding the relationship of the historian to society; analyzing and interpreting primary source materials; recognizing the importance of material culture and built-environment resources in understanding a specific theme, issue, event, or culture; applying concepts from historic preservation, museum sciences, and archival studies to historical research; and understanding the relationship of such academic studies as mathematics, science, art, music, and literature to the study of history.

As interns students practice the knowledge, skills, and values they have acquired at such sites as Woodrow Wilson House, the Navy Museum, the National Museum of American Art, and the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property.


R A M O N A   K .   M U L L A H E Y

In Hawaii we have developed an interdisciplinary educational program that exposes teachers to a basic knowledge of land planning and community development. Its focal point is managing change through environmental stewardship and responsible citizenship. Its underlying philosophies are civic involvement and a preservation and land-use ethic. The program encourages awareness of those decisions that change the physical environment through development and growth and instills a desire to actively participate in the planning process.

Teachers are administered a test to accurately gauge their knowledge of land-use planning. A fifteen-minute video, "Maintaining A Sense of Place," introduces the concepts of planning and zoning and the role of the citizen in directing growth. Teachers focus their attention on their communities as learning laboratories or living classrooms.

To reinforce the concepts presented the teachers are introduced to the complexities of community planning and development through a role-simulation model developed by the Urban Land Institute. Based on a largescale multiuse planned development in Fairfax, Virginia, the education simulation Dilemmas of Development provides teachers with an opportunity to assume the roles of various individuals at a public hearing of a local board of supervisors.

Teachers experience firsthand the complexities of taking a position, presenting testimony, planning a large development, negotiating for community support, and reaching a decision. The underlying value of maintaining a quality community environment serves as a determining factor in the final board decision. Teachers assume their roles convincingly and gain confidence in using the information in the classroom.

In the second phase of the workshop teachers translate decision making into physical implementation with the actual layout of a "box city." After learning about architecture, urban design, zoning, historic preservation regulations, and city form they become "architect/developers" and "city planners." Using a variety of materials including cardboard boxes, recycled plastic and aluminum soda containers, tongue depressors, toothpicks, and foil, the "developers" build structures for land zoned for residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed uses. The "city planners," also using a variety of materials, lay out a city with such natural features as mountains, oceans, and lakes as well as such man-made features as freeways and airports.

The developers` buildings are then presented for approval to the "city planning board," which accepts, rejects, or negotiates with these developers as in real life. Participants are able to "see" the results of their design choices and the impact of building placement or zoning decisions on their environment. They experience the conflict between the interests of developers, city planners, conservationists, and preservationists.

A workshop evaluation is given. Comments are persuasive and positive. Teachers are motivated to take more active roles in their communities. They can read about proposed developments and planning issues with some degree of understanding. They appreciate the complexity of community decision making in the planning process. Heritage, they discover, is reflected not only in cultural artifacts but in the decisions about how we will use our past to shape our future.

We need to understand the historical and cultural influences, values, and traditions that determine the present environment and evaluate their continued effectiveness. One use of the heritage-education approach, then, is to reevaluate our environmental decisions and see how these have been reflected in our communities. We need to understand how change impacts our environment and make some choices about what natural and cultural resources will represent the cultural memory of each generation.

The sponsor of the workshop series is the estate of James Campbell, the major developer of a new master-planned city for Oahu, Hawaii, proposed to encompass 32,000 acres.

The estate is an exemplary developer, integrating a unique sense of history and culture into its city planning and design and innovating a dynamic educational program to foster a sense of civic responsibility.

Publication Date: January/February 1992