By Kathryn Nash
The Medieval World: Life, Thought, Action, edited by Sally N. Vaughn (Houston, 2005)
Introduction: In my curriculum unit, I hope to follow in the spirit of John Steinbeck when he said, “people don’t take trips, trips take people.” My students will explore the roads that laid the foundations for many modern European countries by traveling to the destinations of medieval landmarks. The student will journey along an enticing path of sights, smells, and sounds while visiting the antiquities of a previous age.
A virtual road map will guide us to each location providing a majestic view of the European landscape. Our destinations will include the castles, cathedrals, fortified towns, and commercial centers that were prominent during the Middle Ages and exist in varying degrees of preservation today. Each architectural marvel will unravel the mysteries of the medieval period as students travel back in time to study the life of people who lived in such fairy-tale settings.
As a child, I dreamed of going to faraway places. As an adult, I have been fortunate to visit many faraway places. As a teacher, I hope to spark an interest in my students to go out and see a part of the world that is different from their own. I hope to widen their perspective of the world. I teach at the middle school level when students begin to develop and explore new interests. Although I teach a culturally diverse population, I find that my students do not possess a very broad perspective on the world in which they live. However, they are naturally inquisitive at this age and start to assimilate what they hear with what they know. It is a great time to begin formulating the relationships between past and present and sharing the global cultures of our neighbors.