As previously mentioned, I started a new job last week teaching twelfth grade history/civics. I’m coming in halfway through the school year and would prefer not to look *completely* ignorant in front of the kids, so I’m desperately trying to read all the material from their first trimester (and the first half of the second trimester). It turns out that the history of Boston is actually fascinating. Surprise! Seriously though, we don’t often talk about Boston after Revolutionary War, and it’s good stuff.
I have a giant reader compiled by the full time teacher, starting with a history of the Boston Brahmins (currently the wealthy philanthropist elite), followed by the arrival of the Irish. That takes us up to the 1900’s, when we get into race and ethnicity through the 1950’s (focusing on the West Indian immigration and changes in the Jewish community). This is followed by the busing crisis. Aaaand that’s Trimester 1. In Trimester 2, we’re discussing urban poverty, renewal, and “the ghetto”, which covers the 1960’s through late ’90s.. We’ll finish Trimester 2 with a unit on “Boston Today”, but I have no idea what that means yet, since I’ll be co-writing the material with the full time teacher (and I really really hope she doesn’t have the baby till we’re done). In Trimester 3, the kids will be writing their second major research paper and learning how to do a power point presentation. Whew!
So, what have I been reading? I finished a popular book by Sudhir Venkatesh called Gang Leader for a Day, a fascinating tale of a self-proclaimed rogue sociologist performing in-depth personal research on the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago. We’re reading another book called Villa Victoria which is also fascinating, but was Mario Luis Small’s dissertation- very dry.