Education · Museums · Technology

Follow-up on “The Heart of the Andes”—Call it Serendipity or the Power of the Internet or Both

The Heart of the Andes, Frederic Church


My friend Linda, who teaches English as a Second Language to an amazingly diverse class of 20 college students, emailed to tell me how my post on Frederic Church’s “The Heart of the Andes” coincided with one of her assignments. (Scroll down for a link to my original post.)

Linda is the most creative teacher I have ever known, and I’ve known a lot of teachers. Her students, who hail from China, Haiti, Mauritius, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Syria, and Bangladesh are not only perfecting their English but learning a great deal about American culture in the bargain and I daresay enjoying every minute of her class.

Here is Linda’s email:

(The reason the students were instructed to check out the knights in shining armor and the “Artistic furniture of the Gilded Age” exhibit has to do with some of their reading. As I say, Linda is a creative teacher!)

How interesting that you posted this at this particular time. Last week, I sent my students off to the Met to do three things: check out the knights in armor and next the “Artistic Furniture of the Gilded Age” and last to choose a Gallery Talk to test their listening skills with a lecturer who wouldn’t accommodate their being ESL students. Several of the students chose a particular Museum Highlights tour where the docent took them to see this very painting. I know because a few chose it to describe as the most impressive thing they saw on the tour. Two even said they lagged behind the group because they wanted to keep looking at the painting. One described it as 3-D. These were students who have never been to the Met or perhaps any art museum before. So, as you hit on, it’s all relative. You and I can’t even number how many times we’ve been to the Met or seen “great paintings”, but for these students, it’s all new, so they’re closer to the original audience. Now we’re in the midst of our intense review for the upcoming reading comprehension exam in June, and one of the reading passages yesterday was about American artists and the beginning of landscape painting on this kind of scale in the mid 19th century. The students who went on that tour all commented about “Heart of the Andes” again. So today, I’m printing out your post for them so we can see the old-time photo and follow up on yesterday’s talk. Thanks! Linda

Coincidence, yes, but a powerful demonstration how we are all connected in unimaginable ways via the internet. Gives me goosebumps.


6 thoughts on “Follow-up on “The Heart of the Andes”—Call it Serendipity or the Power of the Internet or Both

    1. A great quote! I have shared with Linda and encouraged her to encourage her students to take a look at the post and comments and hope they will take the opportunity to comment themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A fascinating discussion, both Mary’s original essay and the follow-up – so interesting to consider how a particular work of art was viewed in the past and also through the lens of the multicultural present. I love the serendipity, too.

    I’d just like to footnote that the students mentioned in Linda McDonnell’s message are in a unique “content-based” ESL program called the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP) at the City University. Linda’s one of the outstanding educators in the program, a rare talent who brings to the work both creativity and great attention to the fundamentals of teaching language and analytical skills.


    1. Thank you so much for your comment. As a former teacher myself, who was commandeered to teach ESL one semester to adult college students, I have been so impressed with what Linda tells me about her work at CUNY. ESL is not an an easy subject to teach. CUNY and Linda are doing a superb job!


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