17 July 2006

so far so good

So I have been down here in our nation's capitol for a whole week and I am loving every minute of it. I haven't had many more star sightings, but I have seen some very cool sites.

First, a description of what I have been doing. For the past week we have been working on the CSPAN website, working on creating a list of keywords, working on putting some more videos onto the CSPAN Classroom website. We also had a reunion of most of the former Fellows. That proved to be fun and valuable. A lot of smart, motivated people and it was quite refreshing. I had partly dreaded it as another run of boring meetings. Not so.

Second, I have done some serious sight-seeing. After a grueling bike ride (hills, humidity, I'm a wuss) I spent the day visitng some museums. The first stop was the Holocaust Memorial. That was chilling, gripping, and sobering. It was packed. Next was the Smithsonian American History Museum. I went here mostly to see the Foucault's Pendulum only to find out it has't been here for ten years. I had an old guide book. But I did see the flag that flew over Ft William Henry, that FS Key wrote the poem for. (When I was in the Navy I was stationed on the Francis Scott Key (SSBN 657).)

On Sunday I went to the Native American Museum, probably the best museum I have been to. I spent six hours there after vowing no more than three. Next was the National Archives where I saw the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Billof Rights. There was plenty more there, but those, obviously where the highlights.

I felt like I was seeing some ancient artifact, I mean, I have large parts of all three documents memorized, so why would I feel compelled to go see the real, actual copies? It didn't make any rational sense to me at any part of the visit, but I am glad tohave done it. Another interesting thing about the visit was the people who I was in line with, both in front and behind me parents were making their kids look at the documents (and in some cases reading to them) and telling them how they would be studying these in school. I had two reactions. First that teachers have an extraordinary responsibility to teach citizenship and civics, and that parents, or at least these parents (and in my experience, most parents) are abdicating, or giving over a shared responsibility to the Social Studies/Civics teachers. And not even many teachers, but the 7th and 11th grade teachers who, in NY, are tasked with teaching US history.

Anyway. Washington is great. People keep bracing me for disappointment, knowing I am from NYC, that DC isn't going to be so great. So far I am fully loving it.

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