|A captured moment of Jaime showing us|
the steam-machine power loom that was used in
As my class moves further into the history of the Industrial Revolution we are beginning to learn the horrid conditions of the factory workers, and their life and routine, in general. Last week we had an amazing opportunity of conversing with textile experts from the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England. Below I will mention the awesome Google hangout our class had with 'dem accented folks from Manchester!
Yes, my class hung out with people from England, and yes, they did have fancy accents. When my class was introduced to this assignment, we were all super excited. Since we were going to talk to "experts", we had to have some idea what they were going to discuss with us. So in order to prepare for the chat, my class and I popped on their website and explored their online "Textiles Gallery" archive. My class and I read all about Richard Arkwright and his water frame, and the several textile designers who designed several fabrics. We then watched a quick introductory video on all the machines and the industry itself, by our "explainer", Jaime. As we watched the video, we kept a running list of words that we didn't know (which was a lot). Later, we did a quick Google search and defined the terms. There were several words I had never heard of, like Hopper Feeder Scutcher (try saying that in a English accent 3 times fast). Just so we wouldn't stare blank faced at Jaime we came up with a list of questions to ask him during the chat, mostly related to the textile industry, and the job of a museum curator.
Finally, after becoming "pros", the day of the awaited Google hangout arrived (on my birthday, in fact, what a nice present). After tackling a few technical issues, Jaime was on the smart-board explaining away. As he showed us all the machines used in the textile process, I realized how long the whole method took. Every employee's work counted into making the final product. We also saw the various improvements in the machines used and how fast they were being "updated"; beginning from the hand loom the industry increased production rates by introducing the power loom. As the industry progressed forward machines got bigger, louder, and clunkier. In fact, the machines became less safe as more complex methods of cotton-making were popularized. It was sad to hear the various situations the child and women laborers had to work in- Jaime told us about the frequent accidents, harsh punishments, and the lack of food. There were so many children and women who died in the factories, that the mill owners hired orphans to perform the dangerous jobs, such as cleaning, knowing that they didn't have anyone who cared for them. It was also easier to pay them; only some food and a place to stay was more than enough. Along with some information about the textile industry, Jaime also talked a little about his career, and how he became interested in the field. He too became acquainted with the topic when he was young and always had an interest for the machines. I thought the machines were pretty cool, too!
Overall, I thought this whole experience was "enriching" to our minds. I thought it was a nice way to see the machines that were used in the olden days, and watch how they were operated. It gave us a more concrete idea of all the working conditions that were set for the laborers. It was a fun way to learn a lot about the industrial revolution and how the textile mills and factories played a part. I, personally, have never been in a class where we get to interact and learn with people from outside the school, let alone the country; and I can't wait to do more activities like this.