History teacher brings past to life

CAMBRIDGE, MN (KARE/CNN) - Teachers who have trouble getting their students to pay attention in class might want to listen up.

For 32 years, Dan Johnson has been bringing history to life at a high school in Cambridge, Minnesota. He will retire this year.

This week, his class is studying the Great Depression. Pushed to the side are the regular desks. Fluorescent lights are replaced by a single bulb.

"This is the A&P grocery store," Johnson said.

He has never been a big believer in spouting facts and figures. His teaching method is experiences.

"It's all part of history, to be able to hear things and smell things," Johnson said.

Few of these students even have grandparents who can share Depression-era memories.

In coming weeks, students will arrive to find their teacher dressed like a wwii drill sergeant and a Woodstock hippie.

"They actually put you in a position where it's like how it was back then, and I really like that," student Shayanna Wilson said. "It's amazing how, when things get tough, how you can survive."

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