Home: The Story of Maine

"A Place Apart": The Story Behind the Image of Maine
Lesson 3: Maine: A Place Apart?

(For use with both modules of Episode 1)


Guiding Principles

1. A Clear and Effective Communicator

  • Uses oral, written, visual, artistic and technological modes of expression.

    Content Area: SOCIAL STUDIES: Geography: Human Interaction with Environments

    Content Standard: Students will be able to understand and analyze the relationships among people and their physical environment.

    Performance Indicator: Secondary Grades: Students will be able to explain factors which shape places and regions over time (e.g. physical and cultural factors).

  • Students will:
    • Brainstorm phrases that describe Maine from the point of view of an outsider, before and after watching the program.
    • List phrases that describe Maine from the point of view of a Mainer.
    • Create an exhibit that traces the different images of Maine from its first discovery by the Europeans in the 16th century, to tourism in the 20th century.
    • Write an essay that explains how the image of Maine as "a place apart" has affected the state's economy, history, and identity over time.
    • old magazines with pictures for students to cut up (Down East is a good one to use)
    • posterboard
    • colored pencils, crayons, pens, glue, tape, etc.
    • Assignment Sheet #3
    • Grading Rubric #3
    2-3 days in class, with work at home to complete project
    1. Before viewing A Place Apart: The Story Behind the Image of Maine, ask students to brainstorm phrases that describe the way Maine is seen by people "from away." Make a list on the board. Tell students that the program they are about to see traces the history of the image of Maine as a place apart, from the arrival of the first European explorers to modern-day tourists. Encourage students to make note of phrases in the film that reflect a certain image of Maine.

    2. After viewing the program, ask students to suggest any more phrases that should be added to the list. Suggestions may include:
      • Norumbega--a land of milk and honey
      • one of the nation's premier fishing states
      • the center of the lumber industry
      • a place to get away from it all
      • vacationland
      • an artist's paradise
      • a wilderness
      • Aroostook "Country"
      • a pristine environment that offers a healthy atmosphere
      • L.L. Bean

    3. Now, ask students to analyze the list they've come up with. How many of these items are actually true about Maine? How many of them are closer to fantasies about what Maine could or should be like? What do these phrases leave out? Make another list next to the first that includes phrases that describe another side of Maine, one that people from within the state might be more likely to know. Suggestions might include:
      • a place with long, cold winters
      • a state with a history of poverty and unemployment
      • a state that does offer plentiful, but not unending, stores of fish and timber
      • a place with urban centers like Portland, Augusta, Lewiston
      • a place with often restricted access to its beautiful coast and lakes

    4. Discuss the two lists with students. Ask questions like the following:
      • What do you notice that is different about the two lists?
      • What do you notice that is similar? Might people from away and people from Maine describe the state in similar ways?
      • What phrases portray Maine as a kind of fantasy place? What phrases portray it more truthfully?
      • How might your economic status affect the way you think of Maine?
      • What about audience? Why might the first European explorers have wanted to advertise Maine as the land of Norumbega? What might today's tourist industry want to promote the image of Maine being a place apart?

    5. Discuss with students the fact that the image of Maine as a place apart has affected the state's development in many ways. Maine was settled by Europeans who believed it to be a place where they could fish and farm and own their own land, a place removed from the dense centers of population they knew in Europe. Tourism is one of Maine's largest industries, and the tourist industry thrives on the image of Maine as a place apart. In the past several decades, many people from urban centers like New York or Boston have moved to Maine precisely because they were looking to move away from the dirty city into a more pristine, removed environment.
      Ask students:
      How else has this image of Maine as a place apart affected the state's economy? How have European settlers and tourists from away shaped the development of Maine?

    6. Do native Mainers think of themselves as removed from society, as living in a place apart? Why or why not? What are the positives of this image? What are the negatives?

    7. Have students create a Visual History of the Image of Maine. They may use cutout pictures from magazines and newspapers or make their own drawings. Along with their visual history, they should write an essay that explains the graphics they chose, as well as discusses the way the image of Maine as "a place apart" has affected the development of the state. See Assignment Sheet #3 for details. Provide students with the Grading Rubric when you assign the project.

    8. Have students evaluate their own Visual History exhibit and essay using Rubric #3. Evaluate them yourself, using the same standards.

    9. Hang students' exhibits and essays in the classroom. Host a gallery opening: invite other classes in to view the students' exhibits and to discuss the image of Maine as they see it.
    Have students research the economic impact of the tourist industry on the state. How much money does it bring in each year? How many people does it employ? How have these figures changed over the past 20 to 50 years?
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