Magazine article Social Studies Review

Falcons' Court and Workshop in the Woods

Magazine article Social Studies Review

Falcons' Court and Workshop in the Woods

Article excerpt

There are many ways to learn, but my most memorable lessons in school came from teachers who "became" what they were teaching about. Ancient (from my 7th grade perspective) Mrs. Nestle jumping around as a cave man, Mrs. Houser bringing real sari's from India to class and helping the girls to dress in them, and the actor/ teacher who was Thomas Edison sharing his life and experiences with us in an assembly. These examples of Living History were shining moments that have remained with me for many decades.

Falcons' Court and Workshop in the Woods are complimentary non-profit educational companies dedicated to teaching Living History. We present from a first person historical perspective. Our teachers portray Elizabethan and Victorian characters, and we are currently developing several other eras. The Elizabethan noble characters are actual people from history, well researched and presented as accurately as possible. Peasant and middle class characters are created by the individual teachers, based on research from both writings and artwork from the times. Our clothing is reproduced in natural fabrics and colors, and is hand beaded and embroidered. Careful attention is paid to accessories as well. Drinking from a plastic cup or wearing tennis shoes under Elizabethan skirts destroy the magic, so we wear handmade leather boots, and drink from sculpted pewter or blown glass goblets, and wear period jewelry and accessories. When we are in costume, we are in character at all times.

Interest and curiosity are immediately ignited when students are introduced to people from history. We support that interest by encouraging audience interaction with our teachers. Presentations are lightly scripted to ensure coverage of core material, but all questions are welcome from students and school staff at any time during the program. Because the questions they ask vary each time, this keeps us on our toes and the experience fresh and fun for all of us. This approach also requires our teachers to be well educated about the time they are portraying, including daily life, clothing, activities, politics, literature, etc., as young people are very curious and rarely stick to the topic at hand.

Our instructors are also skilled at improvisational acting, a necessary tool in this style of presentation. For example, imagine the shock of an Elizabethan who sees a Flying Dragon up in the sky, only to learn from the helpful students that it is called "AJet" and is apparently tame enough to fly brave travelers across vast distances. What a marvel, indeed! And imagine the challenge for the students who despite their best efforts cannot convince their Elizabethan guests that the dragon is really a flying machine. Elizabethans have never heard of machines. Or rock-and-roll, or electricity. By attempting to teach us about their world, they learn so much more about ours. We are pleased to be able to offer our Workshop in the Woods program which allows schools to host an Elizabethan Day for their students. These programs are hands on learning experiences immersing learners in the daily life activities of Elizabethans. Participating in these round robin style programs allows students and their teaching staff to join us as Elizabethans for a day. This encourages lasting interest, curiosity and learning and is a truly memorable experience.

Falcons' Court teaches Elizabethan and Victorian Falconry in assembly and classroom settings. Master Falconer, Lord Robert Shallow (Talion Knight) is accompanied by one or two of his noble hunting companions to the school. The first part of our program is presented in an interactive, question based assembly format. Lord Robert introduces himself to the students. He then discusses a bit about the history of falconry asking students questions such as what is falconry and where do they think falconry was first practiced (China about 4000 years ago). A talented performer, Lord Robert keeps the students laughing as they learn history, science and a bit of geography, and how to think outside the box. …

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