The first morning of a tour, I always made it a point of going around the bus to learn the names of each student. It was important for me to hear what the students were looking forward to seeing and expecting on their tour.
It’s a good icebreaker, but it made me aware of the expectations of the students and the anticipation that has been building, often for several months, for the trip. The students were often looking forward to seeing little details beyond the obvious sights and attractions. I used that as further motivation to give them more. Sharing the stories about the past and present of a destination is easy enough but making it interesting to the kids is another. I made it a challenge to connect various themes during a presentation. This would help them see how many aspects are intertwined like the simple topic of yellow cabs in New York. It becomes a spiel about daily routines, economics, geography, transportation and many other points.
The average cab fare is about $7-9 and there are 12,779 (Taxicab Factbook 2006, SchallerConsult.com). Cabs were responsible for 470,000 trips per day in 2006. For Taxicabs in the city, a medallion is worth hundreds of thousands and people can take out mortgages on them, as they are business licenses that generate income.
You can look at the cost of car ownership in Manhattan, or just the cost of monthly parking, and how it affects consumer behavior and the economy. If you live in Manhattan, the cost of car ownership comes with a great additional cost of parking at home and if you ‘commute’ within Manhattan, the cost of parking at work. Add to that the outrageous insurance rates. Add the fact you may not want to drive in the city and risk scratching your car in the dense traffic.
Now, add up all of these tangible costs against the cost of taking daily cabs and subway rides and you actually save a few dollars. If you work 20 days a month, combine a monthly subway pass, supplement a few cabs rides, and rented cars a few weekends a year.
Manhattan city life is very intimate because most residents don't have a car and the services are so close. Grocery shopping is close by, the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, restaurants and shops are all nearby. So whether you live on the upper-east side or Hell’s kitchen, or So-Ho and other districts, you can be sure to find convenient stores and services nearby that don’t require long commutes. It's also part of the reason Central Park and the other parks are so busy on weekends. Those who wish to leave the city on weekends can either rent a car or stay in the city and do their outdoorsy stuff in the park.
So using the yellow cabs to anchor a presentation, we can elaborate on so many topics that are interrelated and help the students better understand the place they are visiting. Urban development, architecture, transportation, social sciences, math and more have been discussed to various degrees.
This way, the kids relate more to the discussion and are more engaged bring more back with them.
A GO Leader is selected from the ranks of education and other academic departments because we want our GLs to have the ability to connect these themes and concepts and be able to share them in an organized and structured way, so it is easy for the students to understand.
Making history fun might seem challenging, but in fact, when stories are well structured and presented well, they draw the audience in and get them to want to know more.