News

November 2002

MAJOR TAYLOR CURRICULUM GUIDE AVAILABLE
Teachers can download free materials

Contact: Lynne Tolman
(508) 831-0301
info@majortaylorassociation.org

     Curriculum kits for lessons about trailblazing black athlete Marshall W. "Major" Taylor, 1899 world cycling champion, are available free to schoolteachers and youth group leaders through a collaboration of the Major Taylor Association, the Educational Association of Worcester and the Institute for International Sport.

     Virginia Walsh, Grade 3 teacher at West Tatnuck School in Worcester, wrote the teachers' guide for a weeklong Major Taylor unit for children in Grades 3 and 4, based on a successful character-education and community-service project that she led in her school in February 2002. The unit includes five take-home worksheets that provide information about "the Worcester Whirlwind," as Major Taylor was known, and related exercises and activities employing language, math and other skills. The packet also includes a reading and discussion exercise for older students, focusing on the Jim Crow racial prejudices that marked Major Taylor's athletic career, how the champion reacted to the closed doors and open hostility he faced on and off the bike, and how his experiences might guide athletes and others today.

     The materials are designed to be used during Black History Month (February) or National Sportsmanship Day (first Tuesday in March) in conjunction with an optional readathon to benefit the Major Taylor Association's fund raising for a planned statue of Major Taylor at the Worcester Public Library.

     The curriculum kits, which include a Major Taylor poster and a resource list for further reading, are available free from the Educational Association of Worcester. Educators and youth group leaders anywhere may click here to download the materials at no charge.      "Major Taylor's life is a powerful story that really grips kids, opens their eyes to a significant period in history, and teaches valuable lessons about character," Ms. Walsh said. "It's not just about sports." She added that the Major Taylor unit fits the curriculum frameworks of the Massachusetts Department of Education and is approved for districtwide use by the administration of the Worcester Public Schools. Major Taylor readathons in her school and others have raised money for the Major Taylor statue, which will be Worcester's first monument to an African-American.

     The Educational Association of Worcester is pleased to offer teachers a supplement to textbook materials, especially one that combines a compelling subject with a community project, said Janet Dufault, president of the teachers' union.

     The Major Taylor unit falls in line with the goals of National Sportsmanship Day, which seeks to heighten awareness of ethics and fair play in athletics and society, said Ruth Wilson, director of the program.

     "Part of the mission of the Major Taylor Association is to teach young people about this forgotten hero, and we're thrilled that professional educators in Worcester, where Taylor lived most of his life, have taken the initiative to bring his legacy to the next generation," said Lynne Tolman, a board member of the Major Taylor Association.

     "Major Taylor broke through 'the color line' half a century before Jackie Robinson played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and we can learn a lot by looking at the forces in society and the personal qualities that played into that," Ms. Tolman said. "These curriculum materials provide an excellent introduction for youngsters, teachers, parents and communities."

     For a free downloadable copy of the Major Taylor curriculum guide, click here. For a classroom poster of Major Taylor, e-mail info@majortaylorassociation.org.

     For more information about Major Taylor, click here.



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