Teaching with dolls
USF Education professor uses travel, dolls to teach

As a secondary education professor, Ann Barron circles the globe in her efforts to train teachers how to use the Internet and software in their courses. Along the way, the USF instructor has acquired more than 230 diverse looking friends.

During trips to the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Canada and the former Soviet Union, Barron stopped at craft shops, flea markets and other venues in search of hand-crafted dolls.

The professor dreams about sharing her knowledge of other cultures with children from around the world. She is designing a Web page so that children can learn how people from other countries dress and about the materials that went into producing each doll.


She displays her collection in her office in the College of Education, but hopes to showcase it around the world after her Web site is completed.

"Every one has a story, and every one has a memory," she said. "I'm into collecting memories."

Barron collected treasures from St. Vincent, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Martinique and other islands when she lived in Puerto Rico for several years, teaching on cruise ships. One of her many Caribbean treasures is a broom doll from St. Lucia.

In 1990, she traveled to Australia, where she worked with the Royal Australian Navy on designing some interactive course software to teach pilots how to fly helicopters. And added a scuba diver to her club.

When she toured the Czech Republic's and Poland's concentration camps, she picked up a carving of a mother and child. Two Greek nymphs, Serenity and Earth, were gifts from her sister, who lives in Greece two months each year. Her collection depicts the culture of each nation. Some are gifts from USF students or friends. She purchased a handmade straw dolls in Belarus.

"I grew up during the Cold War, and it's amazing to go now and talk to them. I was treated very well. I worked with university faculty and students, as part of their international studies program."

by Lisa Cunningham

  Copyright 2001 University of South Florida