Questions, questions, questions seemed to be the theme of the day.
The questions began with our guide introducing the idea that many more mysteries remain unanswered and unresolved by historians and archeologists regarding Jamestown, the first permanent settlement in America.
While you can read about Jamestown in books and on the internet, there is so much you cannot learn without actually being here and experiencing it firsthand. Our morning guide whetted our appetites for the “mystery” and the desire to investigate the story for ourselves by asking our own questions and making connections.
For example, we were all amazed that excavation continues even today at Jamestown. Just two weeks ago a never-before-uncovered grave of a knight from the 1600s was discovered!
And as we explored the museum after lunch, it was exciting to hear kids listen to their guides, read the displays, and make their own connections… …why was a knight here in Jamestown in the first place? …what if that knight mentioned in the Virginia Company of London was connected to the recent discovery?
And, oh my, the questions for the children never ended. Our fifth graders did not disappoint and responded with enthusiasm and creative responses that were not always expected by our tour guides. (One student was even promoted to Assistant Guide for their multiple correct answers.)
Our morning guide also encouraged our students to answer all questions with great confidence, not “like a dog barking from the porch.” Taking that to heart, a great moment occurred when one of our groups was touring the church in the fort of Jamestown Settlement. The guide explained that back in the day it was law that colonists attend church twice daily, and punishments were harsh for disobedience.
Guide: What do you think punishment was for missing one church service?
Fifth grader: Execution! (loudly with confidence)
Guide: No…the colonist lost out on a meal. What do you think punishment was for missing two church services?
(Same) Fifth grader: Execution!!! (just as loudly)
Guide: No…the colonist was whipped. What do you think punishment was for missing three church services?
(Same) Fifth grader: EXECUTION!!!!!!!
Her confident and persistent answer paid off: colonists, in fact, WERE executed for missing three church services!
Ultimately, this little interaction led to more questions in one smaller chaperone group. Was this punishment really Christian? They tossed around the idea that it was law, but it was the king’s law. So then they pondered what prevails… the king’s law? or God’s word? And what was God’s word? The ten commandments?
Questions. Contemplation. Connections.
They made for a fabulous day of learning history and making memories as a class.
by Chris Lemieux and Susan Reudelhuber, parent bloggers