Tenement Neighborhood Tour (Amy)

*This is a work in progress. I’ve combined reflections about each of the days and keep adding material as I think of it.*


June 5, 2017 (Monday)

How could you incorporate yesterday’s NYC experience into your own study away?

Yesterday we discussed the Tacoma Project and the Newberry Library Projects discussed in the Sobania book. We also visited did a walk around the Lower East Side and participated in a guided tour of the tenement neighborhoods.

As the day unfolded, I found myself developing more ideas for constructing a study away experience. The Newberry Library project prompted me to think more seriously about taking students to Akron, Ohio, to the Center for the History of Psychology. The Center has both a History of Psychology Museum and an Archives, so the students could be exposed to content and they could actually conduct a historical research project. Unfortunately, given that there are no other attractions in that area relevant to this course, I’m not sure that this idea is worth pursuing.


June 6, 2017 (Tuesday)

The Tenement Neighborhood Tout

The Tenement Neighborhood tour provided

Yesterday we discussed various chapters that we all chose to read on our own. Several of the chapters that folks discussed were compelling and I’m looking forward to checking them out on my own. One in particular “Seeing things whole: Immersion in the West” by Phil Brick. The author discussed taking students out west for a 90-day camping and service-learning excursion.


June 7, 2017 (Wednesday)

The Tenement Tour

The Tenement Tour gave us the opportunity to visit an old apartment building in it original form. Our entrance to the building was striking because as we entered the dark hall and discussed what it would have been like to live there, we became aware that light provided by a couple of light bulbs made it actually more lighter than it would have been originally when there was no electricity. There was also no running water when the tenement was built, so women would have to fill water buckets outside and then haul them up the stairs. Outhouses were situated in the common backyard area.

The Tenement Museum has gone to great pains to not only preserve the structure of the tenement building, but to also preserve individual apartments and to restore the look and the relics to the ways they would have been at the time particular families lived there. The two different apartments we viewed were from different time periods that represented the different waves of immigration. The most fascinating part of the tour came when we listened to an audio tape of a woman who lived in the apartment as a young girl. She provided several vignettes of what life was like in the apartment. She had very detailed descriptions her mother’s cleaning ritual.

A tour of the tenement museum might be appropriate for a couple of my classes. I think it would be interesting for my History of Psychology students to do the tour and then link the various waves of immigration to time periods in Psychology. For instance, we might try to align John B. Watson’s popular parenting text on raising children with the life of someone living in the tenement house and speculate about the impact of a book like that on the lives of ordinary people. It would also be interesting for my Child Development students to do the sweat shop tour and then discuss child labor and its impact on physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development.


June 8, 2017 (Thursday)

Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty

This was probably my least favorite day overall, but only because we had such limited time visiting Ellis Island and its rich history. It’s takes a long time to travel to these two places because of the ferry rides, long lines, and security checks. I probably would have been fine to not visit the Statue of Liberty and to spend more time at Ellis Island. I was able to do an abbreviated audio tour of the second floor of Ellis Island and knew after breezing out that the place deserved a lot more from me. I could have easily spent a whole day there, especially after hearing about the Hard Hat Tour that takes participants through the whole medical and psychiatric wards.

One small part of the tour that was most applicable to my Study Away plans was the section that pertained to the mental testing that occurred for Ellis Island immigrants. The most interesting test to me required immigrants to draw diamonds on paper. A task such as this may seem simple, but if those who had never held a pencil faced a difficult task, resulting in diamonds with shaky edges and imperfect shapes that looked nothing like the diamonds that an “educated” 5-year-old might produce.

The medical doctor, Howard Knox, who developed the tasks had associations with Binet and Goddard, well-known psychologists who developed intelligence tests. I would love to dig more into Knox’s training to learn about whether his methods were well-regarded. It would be a fabulous project for my students to learn about this early attempt to determine intelligence and the implications of that work for so many underserving individuals.


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