Teacher Takes Class on a Hands-On Ancient Civilization Adventure

Orinda Intermediate School students in The Crucible’s smithy.

At The Crucible, educators like Bobby Glasser have a special place in our hearts.  A sixth grade Language Arts and Social Studies (Ancient Civilizations) teacher at Orinda Intermediate School, Bobby joined The Crucible community in 2006, when he attended the Seven Deadly Sins show.  From there, he was hooked, taking classes, volunteering, interning, and becoming a full-fledged member of the community.  

With a desire to make his classroom curriculum more relevant to his students, Bobby designed a field trip to The Crucible – one that has inspired his students, their parents, and Crucible Staff.  Staff writer Sarah Dabby chatted with Bobby to learn more about his creative genius behind an amazing field trip experience, and how it impacts his students and the community.

Sarah Dabby: What inspired you to create a field trip for your students at The Crucible?

Bobby Glasser: As a long-time member of The Crucible, I knew they did field trips for students, and I wanted to create a field trip directly related to the ancient civilizations my students study.  Pretty much everything The Crucible does is rooted in ancient art forms and techniques, so I went through all the state standards of teaching in sixth grade, and then went through our textbook, and created what I thought would be a cool field trip.  I then presented the idea to Carla Hall (Youth Program Director) and Kristy Alfieri (Director of Education), and they jumped on board. Last year, I brought my class for the first time, and it was great.

SD: How is the field trip structured?

BG: Students are broken up into 9-10 person groups, and then visit six stations at The Crucible for thirty minutes each. Once they’re at the stations, students watch demonstrations by Crucible faculty and get a little bit of instruction. I gave Carla and Kristy the Ancient Civilization’s curriculum, so The Crucible instructors could relate school material to the demonstrations taking place (“When the Samarians used this technique to hammer metal,” etc).  It’s great because then the kids understand the context, and they’re able to make connections they otherwise wouldn’t make. 

SD: Is there any hands-on activity for the students?

BG: They get to play with clay in pottery; in jewelry, they get to hammer a few things; in blacksmithing, they get to punch the metal; in textiles, they get to try on an animal hide.  My students don’t meet the age requirements for the really intense hands-on stuff – but since the groups of students are so small, the kids are really engaged, even if they’re not interacting directly with the material in front of them.  

SD: What sorts of feedback have your received about the field trip?

BG: Students, parents, and teachers have all raved about this field trip.  One parent called me recently saying it’s the best field trip she’d ever accompanied, and that she’s planning to take a class at The Crucible and sign her kid up for camp as well.  

As for the students, they’ve been reading about these civilizations forever, so they’re super fired up when they see it.  They keep saying, “I love this, I love this.”  For the first time, they’re actually making the connections between Ancient Egypt and present day; how King Tut’s jewelry was hammered, how various techniques are used, how the pictures they’ve been studying in school relate to real life.

SD: And as for the field trip itself? 

BG: I talked to my kids beforehand about what makes a good field trip, and a lot of it revolves around having a good docent, teacher, or educator leading the field trip.  The faculty at The Crucible – they’re trained artists, making a living doing what they love.  If you ask them a question, they’re going to love what they’re talking about, and want everyone to touch, feel, smell, work with what’s in front of them.  Leading field trips isn’t ‘just a job’ to them; they’re doing what they love, and that passion is infectious. 

SD: Any advice for any other teachers looking to bring their students to The Crucible?

BG: They need to bring their students to The Crucible.  It helps students make huge connections they’d never make otherwise. It’s one thing to teach it, another to see it right in front of you. At The Crucible, it’s as though the school textbook is alive, right in front of your eyes.   

This is curriculum that any school district will approve, because everything your students should be learning – and more – is included at The Crucible.