Monday, August 6, 2012

The Power of Suggestion

When school was still in session I ran a number of Strawbery Banke workshops on the topic of Archaeology. One of the locations the school kids and I visited during the workshop was the back yard of the Rider-Wood house, where we could talk about Widow Mary Rider and how we could learn about her life. In the back yard there are some bushes, plants, the back door step, and a recreated outbuilding. Half of the outbuilding might be a wood shed, or some other type of storage, that part does not really matter because the other half is a re-created privy. It is a multi-holer, some covered over, some just a hole into the darkness below. I always send the kids in and tell them they will have to tell me what the building is used for when they come back out. The usual reaction is that the kids jump up from where I've made them sit and they rush into the building, bottleneck at the door, and as some of them get their first glimpses the shrieks and the moans start. At least a few dramatic 4th graders will even come out holding their noses. They all tell me that it smells horrible in there.

The funny thing does not smell horrible in Mary Rider's Privy. The thing is a small wooden shed that has never actually been used (to my knowledge.) It smells like wooden shed. I've been in there many times to check after the kids have come out, it does not matter whether the day is hot or cold, it smells like unused building. I could never convince the kids of that though.

1 comment:

  1. That's very funny! We have a similar situation at our smithy at the county fair. Invariably we get a number of people who claim they can "feel how much hotter it is in here" when they step through the door. In fact, there's rarely any temp difference because it's a pretty open structure and it's often cooler because it provides shade from the sun.