Saturday, November 6, 2010

Return to Dana Adobe

Friday we joined homeschooling friends for another tour of Dana Adobe in Nipomo. Though we've visited the historic site several times during various special events, V was so young last time we did the educational tour program that she really didn't remember it. Since it's local, and since we're further delving into modern history this year, this seemed like the right time to return. Plus, this week's arranged tour was among the last scheduled before the site shuts down for some major renovation, so I felt particularly fortunate to have squeaked in there.

The girls enjoyed making tortillas (and, of course, eating them), visiting the burros, and tossing ropes at the cow dummy which they decided was actually a goat dummy. They also learned bits and pieces of history from the site where, from 1837-1858, Capt. William Dana and his wife, Josepha Carrillo Dana, raised their 21 children (13 of whom lived to adulthood) and ran their 38,000-acre cattle operation. Their home also served as a popular resting spot on the stage route. While Capt. Dana was away, it was up to his wife, Josepha Carrillo Dana, to keep the place running. She must have been an amazingly strong woman!

The volunteer docents at Dana Adobe are all fabulous women who have a lot of knowledge about the place, the family and the area and energy to share. I really appreciate that they share their time with anyone interested in learning about the place. But like docents just about everywhere we've traveled, they don't understand homeschooling, and that results in tours that never reach their potential. Since California state curriculum calls for state history instruction in fourth grade, docents stick with the program, addressing older kids while talking so far down to younger kids that even the kids are embarrassed for them. My wish for docents everywhere: understand that if someone is visiting your special place, she probably has a special interest, perhaps even a knowledge beyond her years. Present the information, get into discussions, you'll find visitors of all ages have a lot to offer.

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