Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Teachers Matter 1910 era

 Here's a still of Flora Nicholson from a 'test' of my new soon-to-be 'dining room table documentary' about Flora Nicholson and her year at Macdonald Teacher's College.

Threshold Girl, my ebook is  based on her year.

I had to take a still because the video, although just 3 minutes, was too HD, even to load onto YouTube... (Well, it would have taken a hour to load there.) And I didn't have the audio on high enough anyway. (Back in school, I wanted to be a documentary maker, but that didn't pan out. But now no one can stop me! We have the technology!)

BORING! (People Might Say.) A story about Teachers. But I disagree. Most middle class women who worked in the entire first half of the 20th century were teachers.

My documentary features Flora's Colourful Manual Training Portfolio, which she left behind. When I first found it, I wasn't that impressed either. But I educated myself. This portfolio is KEY to what was going on in Canada in 1910. Rampant Industrialization. Mass Immigration.

As I said in my off-the-cuff doc (my first try) Edith's picture here is nesting in a pile of 'boxwork."

Little trays and baskets and barns and postcard holders.  

This boxwork was part of the Manual Training Movement, started in Europe.  Sloyd.  This new activity was to help children of immigrants learn manual dexterity and perseverance.  This was to make these men good workers in our Canadian society. The girls it would hoped would go on to be domestics, a very fine profession according to Canadian Powers That Be. (Women's groups disagreed.)

 These children were not destined to be  knowledge workers. This was an era of "Everyone in their Proper Place." Today, our kids with undergraduate college degrees are destined to work in Service...if they can find a job.

Flora's Letter from Macdonald. I included all her letters in Threshold Girl. This makes that book partially epistolary.

I guess I should head down to Macdonald College to take some video. That campus has looked much like it looked in 1910 until recently. They've squeezed in a giant modern building among the adobe roofed historicals.