History teacher dubs his room 'Life in the Past Lane'

2:03 PM, Mar 23, 2013   |    comments
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CAMBRIDGE, Minn. - Cambridge high school was sunny on the outside Friday - different story in Dan Johnson's history classroom.

"Here's a depressed classroom," he proclaims. Gone are the florescent lights, replaced by a kerosene lantern and one single, uncovered bulb. Depression era music plays on a turntable while Johnson dons suspenders and a hat that would have been at home in the 1930s.

Johnson has never been a big believer in spouting facts and figures, unless they are attached to a price list for an A & P grocery store. His teaching method is experiences.

"That is all part of history to be able to hear things and smell things," he says.  Johnson has dubbed his classroom, "life in the past lane."

In coming weeks students will enter the classroom to find their teacher dressed like a WWII drill sergeant and a Woodstock hippie.

"It puts you in a position of how it was back then and I really like that," said Shayanna Wilson, a Cambridge 11th grader.

Few of these students even have grandparents who can share depression era memories. Johnson does that for them.

"It makes it interesting to learn and stuff, it's not like math class where it's boring and stuff," said 10th grader Megan Scheiller.

After 32 years of teaching high school history, Johnson will retire at the end of this school year. At Cambridge High School, history will treat him kindly.

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