Vacation Thoughts

My kids love to visit aquariums and zoos on our vacations, but as a historian I feel an obligation to sneak in history whenever I can. On this trip, before visiting the NC Aquarium at Roanoke, we stopped at Kitty Hawk, NC to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. I have to admit that I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the sights since I hadIMG_0379 been there before, but one exhibit caught my attention. It said that in 66 years we went from the invention of flying to a flight to the moon. This really struck me. For each of my History 195 classes (History of the Modern Era), which is a required course for non-History majors at IUP, I try to explain to them how fast things are changing for us, especially compared to people living centuries ago when change was much more gradual, if at all. I have been using the example of the development of the cell phone to make this point. I explain to my class how my first cellular phone in the early 1990’s was the big bag phone that only worked when plugged into my car’s cigarette lighter, and that now cell phones are everywhere, very small, and able to surf the internet. I am not sure if this has been working, since I feel like my students look at me like I am some old geezer. [This year my freshmen were born in 1993, so that might explain the looks.] This fall I am going to use the 66 years between flight and the moon to see if it works better.

RSM

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