May 22, 2003

Back from Wisconsin

Just got back from a little luncheon talk at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. I met some very cool faculty and students. They'd just finished creating a WebQuest that teased apart the concept of Patriotism and were doing it just as the Iraq war began. It was part of a larger project with three other UW campuses and clearly the kids learned all the right stuff: taking on perspectives other than their own and learning to appreciate while disagreeing; divvying up the work of creating curriculum; keeping it at the level of analysis and synthesis. It makes me optimistic about the future when I see new teachers thinking this way with such enthusiasm.

Something uniquely Wisconsinish: at lunch the servers gave us a choice of iced tea or milk. MILK?! Later when I mentioned this to the faculty, they didn't think it was all that uncommon. Life in the dairy state!

The city of Oshkosh is divided fairly equally by the Fox River. Penny Garcia, my host, told me that Oshkosh was actually founded as two cities that became one. Wow, I thought, Osh and Kosh, just like Buda and Pest... but that would be too good to be true. Turns out the two halves were named "Athens" and "Brooklyn" so naturally they named the combined city after a local Native American Chief.

Wisconsin seems like a pretty place this time of year. The lilacs, my favorite plant in all the world, were blooming everywhere and filling the air with that sweetness. Today before heading to Green Bay to fly out, I drove around some back roads trying to get a sense of the place. I stumbled on a big place off the side of Rt. 110 that had giant mooses, statues of liberty, other amazing kitsch, all for sale. I've never seen anyplace like it.

Pictures of all that and more are here.

Only 6 more states to go: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and Arkansas. Time to start keeping track of Canadian Provinces I've been to!



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