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Your post brings up an interesting and important topic that I feel humanities scholars in particular can no longer afford to ignore: the need to create meaningful partnerships between higher education and high schools. Currently, in my position as the coordinator of the Pathways in Technology (P-Tech) program at SUNY Orange, I have created and implemented a faculty liaison program with our partnering high school.
I’ve been looking through the ol’ H-AMSTDY logs for something timely to discuss. I found surprisingly little about The Pope and even less about Donald Trump. I was beginning to feel rather down about the whole enterprise until I stumbled across rich vein discussions about elections. Or rather, I found rich vein of discussions about a lack of discussions about elections.
Rachel Waltner Goossen, a historian at Washburn University, published an article on toys and nationalism in 2013 in _Peace & Change_ (volume 38, no. 3). Title is "Disarming the Toy Store and Reloading the Shopping Cart: Resistance to Violent Consumer Culture." I THINK that there is a collection of nonviolent toys created directly in opposition to nationalism and militarism out there in some Mennonite cultural archive, maybe the Kauffman Museum in Newton, Kansas--at least, they would be a good source to contact.
Another good resource is the "Object Lessons" column in the online journal Common-place (www.common-place.org), which focuses on American history and culture to 1900. Each version of the "Object Lessons" column focuses on an individual object, explaining its production and placing it in historical context. The columns are written by scholars in the field, but are intended to be accessible to a general readership. And they're free!
Director of Academic Programs
American Antiquarian Society
Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture publishes articles about objects and their historical contexts. The journal is available on JStor. You might find some useful readings there. For articles about modern objects, with which students might have personal experience, see Rebecca Shrum's article about Mr. Coffee (Winter 2012) or Bess Williamson's article about objects designed for people with disabilities in the same issue. Dr. Williamson's article won the Grier Prize for best article in Winterthur Portfolio in 2011-2012.
I like American Artifacts by Jules Prown and Kenneth Haltman as well, but you could also check out back issues of the journal American Jewish History: https://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/american_jewish_history/