Education For All
In August 1892, Enfield Shaker Eldress and Church Family schoolteacher Mary Ella Briggs described her school’s closing ceremony: “One speaker told the scholars they had the cosiest, nicest school in town,” she wrote in the Shaker Manifesto. “They all looked bright as dollars and to the teacher aside he said, ‘I’ve had an awful good time,’ whether that phraseology be a good omen for the school, or a bad one for the board, we leave our readers to determine.”
Fall fast approaches, and with it the “awful good time” known as the school year. Throughout my years as a university professor, and now at Enfield Shaker Museum, I have often observed that many, despite not attending, teaching, or having any children in school, still base their schedule on the school calendar. This is a habit, I suppose, gained from so many formative years spent attending to the rigid schedule of Learning Time (Fall-Winter-Spring) vs. Leisure Time (Summer).
Luckily, most of our visitors seem just as happy to attend learning experiences in the summer as otherwise. At Enfield Shaker Museum we constantly strive to expand opportunities for learning throughout the year and for all stages of life. Of late we have particularly focused on providing year-round educational content to our members through digitally released interviews, tours, and talks on timely topics. We released one such video in June—an interview with long-time Museum Buildings and Grounds Committee member Richard Dabrowski—and plan to release two more later this year: an interview with Museum Timber Framer Tim Baker in September, and a tour of the Laundry led by Education Coordinator Kyle Sandler in December.
Popular attitudes about education have certainly changed since 1892. The school term Eldress Mary Ella Briggs described was filled only with girls; boys attended the other seasons’ terms. Today’s emphasis on a more pleasurable experience fueled by curiosity has replaced rote memorization. More people than ever before are attending schools of all sorts, as well as patronizing libraries and museums.
Enfield Shaker Museum strives to make our educational experiences as enjoyable and accessible as possible for all—and our members make all the difference in this mission! Membership dues support Museum general operations and educational efforts. We hope you will become a member today and join us in bringing new and engaging educational opportunities to you, and all our supporters.