Days 1- 2
The first classroom project will be to draw a large map (8’ x 12’) of New Haven and then to use this map to locate the monuments and memorials including the temporal memorials that can be found in New Haven. Because Coop High School is an arts magnate school it draws upon students living in several different neighborhoods. The first assignment is designed to harness each student’s knowledge of their own neighborhood in a collective manner. However, before students begin the process of indicating the location of different monuments they will be required to write a short one to two page definition of ‘memorial’. In this paper they will be asked to establish categories for the different types of memorials such as war, civic leader, religious saint, or victim and to describe the different styles of memorials. They include memorial parks, architecture, statuary, symbolic objects and tag writing. From their definitions students will develop a color coded key indicating the different types of memorials, with clear distinctions made between the type of memories being preserved and the formal characteristics of the memorials.
Students will be required to complete a series of short research assignments investigating the memorials found in their own neighborhoods (see attached research forms). This will introduce them to the five step procedure of analyzing memorials. Having completed the research students will be asked to present their findings in the class and to place this information in code on the map. The goal is to generate a collective map that will indicate how the very fabric of our city is built upon the human need to preserve memory. It is through a careful analysis that students will gain an understanding of the artist’s intentions, use of symbolism and finally how our interpretations of these memorials shape our understanding of history.
The teacher’s responsibility will be to listen to each of the students presentation, review their research forms and to give critical feed back that will continue to challenge their insights. For instance if a student were to make a presentation of the Vietnam Memorial in New Haven, described its form (black granite in a V shape), stated the purpose of the memorial, equated the symbolic use of the V as representing Vietnam and summarized the audience as anyone living in the greater New Haven area, the teacher should press the student with additional questions such as: What is the significance of placing the memorial along the side of the highway? When you see the letter V what comes to mind? Victory? In what ways have the Vietnam Veterans become victorious? Does this memorial read as a billboard and if so does the audience include all of the people who are driving past the memorial on I-95? Is there a relationship between the way we view the history of Vietnam and the way this memorial can so easily be viewed from I-95? If in fact its placement next to I-95 is inconsequential then what is the symbolic purpose of placing it next to Long Island Sound? This process of questioning will encourage a dialogue within the class room and give students the freedom to question every aspect of a memorial and create an informed perspective.
After the students have completed their research assignments the teacher will present a slide lecture of New Haven memorials. This presentation will combine overview shots with details of the most significant memorials using approximately 80 images (one carousel). A significant portion of this presentation will be a review of the students research. However when a memorial is shown that was not previously covered students should indicate this work on the collective map. (see notes for slide lecture 1)