"In preparation for Tuesday's fieldwork, you should read your source materials as thoroughly as possible."
While that may sound like fair warning to a biology class about to explore local stream pollution, "field work" and "source materials" are actually key to the art-meets-English-meets-social studies midterm assessment for some 11th grade American Studies students at the Shipley School. These students, working in teams at both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, pulled their theses from a close examination of selected works of art and historic documents.
The inter-disciplinary project, organized by Charlene Weigel of the History department and Michael Kline of the English department at Shipley, is designed to allow students to confront and write from primary sources in their exploration of American history and culture. "This assignment," notes Michael Kline, "seemed like a good way, at the end of the first semester, to pull together the textual and visual components of the class. [The students needed] to take a painting and a primary historical document and then, from these sources, devise a thesis. The use of primary sources is crucial to the class."
Michael Kline has earned his doctorate in American Studies, and has taught in the English and Interdisciplinary Departments at Shipley since 1999. He has also had experience teaching at the collegiate level.
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