Heaven in Oakland—a Halfway Point

“In talking about the house on the Battle Farm, and how the townspeople in the Pastures of Heaven view it, I asked kids if they knew of places like this in their own lives. One student said there were ghost stories about a house he knew of where a person had died in the basement. Others said they knew of places that were really worn down. I said, ‘Yeah, they may be abandoned, like how the Mustrovics had to suddenly up and leave.’ Another student chimed in, ‘We call those bandos.’ I thought about our current economy and how it might be more timely than I thought to have empty, worn-down houses in their very midst due to foreclosures.”

That’s an excerpt of a blog by Emily Morrison, Cal Shakes Artistic Learning Programs Manager. She’s teaching John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven to eighth-graders as part of a residency at E.C. Reems, an Oakland charter school, and blogging about it at OER (Open Educational Resources) Commons. We’ll be excerpting the blog and linking to it in this space as the residency continues, building toward a community event featuring student readings and artwork in mid-December. Read the full blog entry for a window onto Morrison’s arts education experience.

Pictured above: Emily teaches at at a 2007 Cal Shakes Summer Shakespeare Conservatory; photo by Jay Yamada.

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