Welcome to the Spring 2007 issue of the TEAMS online journal for K-12 teachers! We thank you for your patience during our hiatus this last fall, as Kevin Ruth handed over the editorial reins to me. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Kevin for his work on Scientia Scholae. I am honoured to attempt to fill his shoes as the new managing editor and grateful for all the creativity, time and effort he has put into the creation of this wonderful forum for the teaching community.
As you can see, this Spring issue inaugurates a few changes for our journal. Most obvious is the transformation of our title from Scientia Scholae to The Once and Future Classroom.While we hope this playful Arthurian reference will be inviting for those who stumble across us in cyberspace, for those of us already committed to this resource for teaching the Middle Ages, we hope our new title declares our belief in the ongoing relevance of the study of things medieval in a society which so often defines itself in contradistinction to the pre-modern.
I am also delighted to introduce a new regular Library Resources column hosted by Dr. Alan Lupack, Director of the Robbins Library at the University of Rochester. This column will feature guest columnists involved with the Robbins Library who will present annotated bibliographies of resources for teachers on a variety of topics in medieval studies. Our first contributor to this column is Valerie B. Johnson, whose comprehensive and very accessible annotated bibliography on Robin Hood will no doubt inspire many of us to develop lesson plans around this popular medieval legend. With a new Robin Hood mini-series coming to BBC America and Universal pictures rumoured to be putting out a new revisionist Robin Hood film, this is an excellent opportunity to explore the pedagogical potential of the legendary outlaw in our classrooms.
In addition to the new guest column, The Once and Future Classroom will continue to present, in the words of Kevin Ruth, “quality, thought-provoking articles related to the teaching of Medieval Studies in elementary and secondary schools.” This issue includes two articles which offer not only exciting and practical ideas to apply in the classroom, but also ask us to consider more broadly how the nature of studying the Middle Ages has changed—and indeed should change—in response to developments in the scholarship on the Middle Ages AND in the craft of pedagogy. Put quite simply, this issue’s contents invite you to consider what and who has traditionally been left out of the study of the Middle Ages.
Melanie Schuessler’s article “Fashioning the Middle Ages” reflects a growing interest in the study of material culture among medievalists. Schuessler makes an eloquent argument for the importance of the history of fashion as a way of understanding the past. Moreover, her creative discussion questions demonstrate how appealing the study of the history of clothing is for elementary and secondary students, who typically do not need to be convinced of the importance of fashion in their own lives, but who can learn much about the Middle Ages, social history and, indeed, themselves as they consider the ideological, economic, and social functions of material culture.
If Schuessler’s article invites us to consider what has been left out of the study of history, Kelly J.P. Morden’s article draws our attention to students often excluded from opportunities to learn about the Middle Ages. In “Sentence and Solaas in Special Education: Adapting Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale for Students with Cognitive Impairment,” Morden makes a convincing case for including medieval literature in the Special Education classroom. Educational practitioners (teachers and administrators) have made significant advances in creating more inclusive schools that meet the needs of diverse student populations, including those who were up until recently excluded from mainstream schools because of a disability. Disability advocates are working hard to draw attention to the barriers created by social assumptions about disabilities and disabled individuals. By its very conceptualization, Morden’s article challenges us to consider our own assumptions about who can benefit from medieval studies. In a culture that tends to deem the study of the Middle Ages as impractical, dilettantish, esoteric, shall we reinforce such stereotypes by limiting the study of the Middle Ages to AP classrooms? Finally, as a medievalist, I found Morden’s pedagogical use of the visual register in her classroom reminiscent of medieval practices—the use of visual arts and symbolic gesture, for example. It led me to wonder what the Middle Ages might teach us about teaching itself. A topic for another issue, perhaps…
In the meantime, I hope my rather lengthy welcome has whetted your appetite for the Spring 2007 issue. I welcome your comments on this issue, your recommendations and requests for subsequent issues, and, last but not least, your submissions to The Once and Future Classroom.
Dr. Christine Neufeld
Department of English Language and Literature
Eastern Michigan University
Original Citation:The Once and Future Classroom. Volume V, Issue 1, Spring 2007 http://www.teamsmedieval.org/ofc/SP07/ed.htm
NOTE: Links have been corrected and/or deleted. The original “look and feel” of the journal has been preserved as much as possible, but the original logos have also been removed. No editing to the actual texts has been done since their original publication.