One recent example involved Southwest High School students who took part this week in a pilot project that melded art and history to produce a highly localized lesson. To some it may have appeared as though the students were wasting valuable instruction time making clay pots, but this was no ordinary art project.
The clay pots in question were supposed to mimic the techniques used by the area’s Kumeyaay Indians of centuries ago. Prior to the pottery workshop, a presentation was given by the museum director who for the first time had taken precious museum artifacts out of the museum and into the classroom.
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An earlier portion of the pilot project that had students visit the museum to try their hand at pottery-making had also proved popular with kids. They should all think of themselves as proud members of a local minority who know how to properly pronounce Kumeyaay.
Depending on the success of the pilot program, which was funded in part by the Imperial Valley Community Foundation, the Valley may see a more intimate collaboration between the museum and local schools, we’re told. That such an educational initiative can succeed is readily apparent in the efforts of the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center to promote the value of local farmland.
Such arrangements also hold the promise of evoking a deeper appreciation of the area’s oft-forgotten history in generations of students to come. For that reason we believe the pilot program, which wraps up in eight weeks with an exhibit of the students’ pottery, needs to be found a welcome and permanent place in the classroom.
Desert Museum pilot program brings local history into the classroom.
More local historical awareness among youths needed.
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