But I am starting at the end of the story. Let me tell it in sequence.
First, this quote”
Most people know me because of my interest in science, math , technology and engineering. But lots of people love me for my cooking. Well cooking is an accidental science. But most don’t think of it in that way. My dad ate a lot of my experiments he used to say. But I learned and became an accomplished cook. I never thought that cooking would intersect with teaching.
Mr. DeBaggio was a parent in my school. He came in one day when I was teaching about plants and offered to teach the class how to grow herbs on the windowsill.
We were studying Medieval England and so I thought ok, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”. He grew a lot more. It was nice to not have to pay extravagant prices for the herbs. He also published a newsletter that told us all about the use of herbs, now and then.
He became a frequent visitor to the classroom.He told us that we would better understand Medieval Times if we studied the culture of the times to that of Shakespeare’s time. So we took on the challenge.
He produced a catalog of herbs. He told us that they were used , not just for eating, but for other purposes, medicinal, household uses, and for fragrance, oh yes and for remembering.
His catalog shares the use , and care of plants.
You can get the new version of the catalog here.
Download the catalog
This is a tribute to him. He developed that hobby into a business.
Sadly, he got ill..
His son Francesco ,shared this.
My father finally succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease on Monday, February 21, 2011. He had been living in a nursing home for the last two-and-a-half years. He developed an infection that caused him to have difficulty swallowing and breathing. Within 5 days, he quickly deteriorated, and died as peacefully as possible.
**A passage in “Losing My Mind” noted the supposed healing powers of rosemary bushes and the melancholy Mr. DeBaggio felt as he watched the herb grow in the greenhouse – “splashy blue and subtle white” – on the day he received his diagnosis.
Noah Adams and, more recently, Melissa Block of NPR’s All Things Considered followed the progression of his disease in several installments over the last few years.
Washington Post Obituary Listen to the NPR interviews with Tom DeBaggio and his wife, Joyce, chronicling their experience with this devastating disease.
A Parent Helps Shape the Learning Journey“How He Helped Us Focus and Learn”
The classroom was before incessant testing.
We had time to learn calligraphy, both basic and Illuminated, to learn to play chess, and to interact with the Folger Shakespeare Library.We made flutes and then bought flutes to learn to play.We read David McCauley books on “Castles” and then we tried to build our own castles.We read so many books.
We looked at movies and videos and engineered our own “castles”.That was great fun.
The thing about the book. The illustrations and word play. We read the books over and over again.
We studied the use of herbs as medicine , food in the early times.
We had a book, “Shake Hands with Shakespeare”. It was a student edition of some of Shakespeare’s Plays.But I was side tracked as the students found editions of the play’s in their home libraries and they preferred those editions. Soon they were comparing editions. This came in as a great help when we had to produce our own version of a Shakespeare play.
The Folger invites teachers and their students from across the DC Metro area to perform their 25-minute interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays. The students help edit, direct, and craft a piece, then perform in front of an audience of their peers in a day-long festival that celebrates Shakespeare’s language, his plays, and the students’ achievements mastering his work.
* surely it increased vocabulary
From the Herbal Gardens to Medieval Music we went…
We learned to play the flute at lunch break. A local school group came and sang madrigals to us. Then a high school group made us Medieval costumes.
In the science part of the lesson we were also hatching chickens, and one duck. Our eggs were successful , and the duck, hatched too . He was a black duck. He swam in circles in a bowl while in school. Sometimes he followed us around the room.( We called him Shakespeare) . When he got big, we gave him to a family to be a pet.
The National Geographic had a map that we used to explore trips to get ready for the big event.We wanted to know what England was like. We were after all, going to the Folger Shakespeare Library to a replica theater.
We were a class that took all of this to heart.
The next year we:
Raised chickens and a duck
Learned chess and did living chess in the school yard
Made bread dough dragons with almond toenails
Made Illuminated Initials in Gold for our Desks ( art teacher)
Learned to make herbal wreaths and tea
Took more flute lessons
Learned to mordant wool, ( get dye colors as they did back then)
We took rudimentary fencing lessons
We had a feast using authentic recipes. BEST? Sorrel soup, and Turkey haunches)
Learned to use an abacus
Listened to a town crier
Made a replica of the First Shakespeare library
Grew flowers as Anne Hathaway did
Borrowed an 8o pound beaded dress for our “faux” queen for our own festival
Learned the language of flowers in the old times
Understood who could wear what colors in olden times and why
Made a stained glass project.
Most of all, we learned more Shakespeare plays.
The meaning of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, Scarboroh Fair
The herbs parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, recurring in the second line of each stanza, make up for a key motive in the song. Although meaningless to most people today, these herbs spoke to the imagination of medieval people as much as red roses do to us today. Without any connotation necessary, they symbolize virtues the singer wishes his true love and himself to have, in order to make it possible for her to come back again.