Immigration, Social Justice and the Armory: Kickstarting a New Adventure

Armory WMWP PD May17

I am helping to co-facilitate a new project that connects middle school educators and students with the Springfield Armory, our local National Park historic site through writing and inquiry and service learning projects.

Yesterday, at our first meeting, we began our work on the project, as our group of teachers from an urban magnet school took a tour of the Armory itself and learned of its rich historical resources, took part in a workshop on Authentic Writing and Performance Tasks, and began initial planning for a free summer camp we are offering at the end of June for city students at the Armory.

I can’t say enough about the educators¬†who have agreed to be part of our project, called Minds Made for Stories (influenced by the work and book of the same name by Thomas Newkirk, who argues that narrative is the underlying nature of all writing that we do). They were inquisitive, passionate and ready to dive into the work ahead of us.

The overall theme of our project¬†is Social Justice, and the thread that will tie our work and the development of the camp is “immigration,” as the current climate around immigration is a central focus in the lives of many of the students at the school where our teachers teach. This became clear as we worked through a variety of topics, as teachers talked about the all-consuming worries and anger about the current immigration policies and politics of the national stage.

We’ll be looking at immigration, and racism and other related topics, through the lens of the Springfield Armory and its workforce, and its work as munitions center for the country for much of the 20th Century. We’ll have guest speakers to talk about oral history, and have student at camp design some sort of service learning project that can go back to their school in the fall.

The project is supported by the Mass Humanities organization, the National Writing Project, the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, the National Parks Service via the Springfield Armory and the Veterans Education Project. There are lot of moving parts to this one, which makes it challenging to coordinate and exciting to put into motion.

Peace (today and every day),

    • Lots of historical resources, including many primary sources and materials. And lots of guns. Which sort of puts a teacher off-balance, given the climate around guns and schools these days.

  1. Hi Kevin, You must have unbelievable energy. I see you involved in so many projects, not as a lurker, or follower, but as a coordinator.

    This project looks interesting and reminded me of an article I wrote after reading one of your articles last October.

    I hope that as your students visit the Springfield Armory and begin to expand their learning some will create journey maps, using the story map, or other tools, to show how opening up one source of information can lead to other information, which then leads to more. If they archive their journey, others will be able to learn from them and add on to what they do.

    I’ll be interested to learn more about the Armory since I’ve been interested in military history since I was a boy and since so much of US weapons manufacturing has roots in your state.

    • They will be doing a service learning project of some sort (to be determined) and mapping history, particularly the role of the Armory in local history and the nation’s historical story, will be a center of our work. After all, this was the place of Shay’s Rebellion, which has some reverberations today with the street protests.

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