Confronting History in the Heartland
Chapter 3. History in the Act
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HISTORY IN THE ACT
I arrived in Marion in the closing days of March 2011 and was immediately surrounded by people and places from an earlier stage of my life. I unpacked a suitcase into my childhood bedroom and soon found myself walking the halls of Marion High School, from which I had graduated twelve years earlier. In this chapter, I explain how the project unfolded over two months in the spring of 2011, providing evidence of the project’s scope, the time allotted, and the activities and teaching that took place. I also explain the sorts of data collection that I undertook, clarifying my role in the project as both a participant and an observer and providing context necessary to understand later chapters, which examine the nature and degree of value that this work had for students and members of the public. This narrative is far from a “how-to” manual, but I hope to provide some practical sense of how a project like this can be carried out.
Over the course of this description, it will become clear that the classroom differed from the norm in important ways, not least among them the fact that Mr. Munn and I—two adults—were both present. At the same time, however, the research site was a real classroom in an ordinary public high school. I aim to present a balanced analysis of the project and to reflect on what lessons are to be...
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