Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our Day in Hamburg

A "selfie" in Hamburg.
July 4th, 2014 - Hamburg, Germany. By Angelica Cruikshank.

The train has arrived, and our cohort has settled at the Ibis Hotel in Hamburg, Germany.  After much anticipation, the group headed to the Museum of Work in Hamburg in search for a better understanding of the workforce industry in Germany, before we are headed to Bremen next week.  Some of us were familiar with the train and transportation system at Hamburg while others were experiencing riding the train for the first time to the Barmbek Station were the museum is located. Once at the museum, the group was welcome at the main lobby by the Big Bertha.

Big Bertha is the ultimate factory machine, among many other machines and artifacts at the museum, dated from the industrial period of Hamburg’s history in the late 1800’s.  All these different types of machinery, from type writers, to printing, have not only endured the test of time, but also share the history of a city rich in manpower, and economic development, making Hamburg a printing media and financial center for the people in Germany and the world.

"Big Bertha"
Throughout the museum, the theme of labor force is accompanied by the supply and demand of goods, as well as materials, such as rubber and cacao, all pillars to the different industries not only in Hamburg, but also all over the world. Undoubtedly, our curiosity moved us onto the next level, and in the second and third floor, the museum helped us learn more about the initial tradesmanships or learned professions from the beginning of the 17th century. These transformational periods in time changed the worker performance, from organizational management to work safety to production more efficient.

In this context, apprenticeship and journeyman were stages of training in the industry that inspired and revolutionized other trades and professional careers as well, as evident by the exhibit.  In the second floor of the exhibit, there were also machine calculators, and printing through cylinder seals, as well as original samples of the wardrobe wore by blue collar and white-collar workers. These snippets explained the transitions that also helped shape professions such as bookkeepers and printing shop apprentices, as well as many other roles of the German workforce in Hamburg, which have evolved into what we know them to be today.

Working on book binding.
During our tour of the second floor exhibit, we met some Master printers, in printing and media, and apprentices, who were working on book printing and textbook binding right there at the museum.
In the third floor of the exhibit, professions took a different twist. The exhibits there presented us with a timeline dating from the 1600’s. Many of the main professions, as well as the education for such, evolved through time as industry demands changed workers roles and social reform, especially after WWII. These changes in education and involvement of the manufacturing industry were based in social need for the betterment of the workers and quality of the work.
Our experience left our group with a better understanding of how this approach was centralized on the wellness of the workers, rather than the profit of the stakeholders. It truly made me positively appreciate the approach of the German system.
Work from a social perspective.

For the last floor, our group was introduced to one of the systems of transport most used by people here in Hamburg and in Europe, the bicycle. This floor is completely dedicated to the evolution of bicycles as an invention and what has become later on, as a medium for transportation aside form the train and bus systems. After this experience, the term workforce has developed a new meaning, no longer is just earning a living.  After this visit to the museum, I have experienced with my own eyes artifacts that were invented 200 years ago, like the printer.

Now days we have our iPads, and Kindles to share the news, or our favorite magazine article.  The magic of invention could be felt during our visit, and each artifact represented a piece of progress through the hard work of many Germans, and maybe as American educators we can learn something about them. I know during the trip I was not the only one having a great time learning about history of Germany’s workforce, and of course about bikes.

See other pictures from my visit:

The workplace.
Pinting technology.
Workplace accommodations.
Trying out a bike.