I did not know about historic preservation until I was in my 40's. I was planning to be an interior designer but could not manually draft a straight line. I was living in Atlanta and found out there were programs at Georgia State, University of Georgia and the Savannah College of Art and Design. I chose SCAD.
When I was an elementary school student-I never knew about historic preservation. Of course, that was in 1964-the National Historic Preservation Act did not arrive until 2 years later. I still did not know about the field. Same with high school-undergrad years-working in other professions-getting an MBA.
Guess what? HP is in elementary schools and high schools now. And it should be. One example of an outstanding program is on the World Monuments website, the Williamsburg (Brooklyn,NY) High School for Architecture and Design as “the only high school in the United States with a four year comprehensive historic preservation curriculum”. And why not? How about some of these reasons?
1-When children go into a downtown business district-shouldn't they know the precise name of a Grecian column at the facade of a historic building?
2-If they take a field trip to Drayton Hall in Charleston, South Carolina-shouldn't they know about the history of this site?
3-If their parents decide to buy a historic house for sale-shoudn't they know what architectural style it is?
4-If they go on a vacation to New York City-shouldn't they be able to recognize the Empire State, Chysler and Flatiron buildings, as well as, The Guggenheim?
5-If they notice certain commemoration plaques on a building-will they know why they are on the National Trust for Historic Preservation? Or a local preservation commission?
When you are teaching students about historic preservation-you are not just teaching historic preservation. You are teaching about architecture-design-landscapes-collective memories of a given society. You are helping kids become historically literate. If students just happen to be fortunate to be attending a school that is on the National Register for Historic Places-you are instilling a sense of pride that will stay with them for the longest time.
STAY TUNED for my next blog on where kids can learn about historic preservation if they are not getting it at school.
Thanks for Reading,
Michael H. Gelman