1003 K-12 teachers participated in thirty different seminars, including the “Colonial Era” seminar at Princeton University.
Click here for a recap of another great Gilder-Lehrman summer!
The sixth and final day of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America is in the books. What a week! We had an amazing group of inspiring teachers in the seminar this year. I am so privileged to be able to know them, teach them, share meals with them, and learn from them. I will miss this group.
Thanks to Gilder-Lehrman for making it all happen!
I began class yesterday with a lecture on the First Great Awakening. I defined “evangelical religion,” told some stories about George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, and discussed how this religious revival influenced colonial religion, education, women, and rhetoric.
The second morning session was devoted to Q&A. Teachers asked questions about The Way of Improvement Leads Home, my approach to research, and my views on the current state of history in schools, colleges, and universities.
After lunch I tried to bring everything together in a final lecture titled “From Colonials to Provincials: The British-American Colonies on the Eve of Revolution.” The lecture was followed by some spirited conversation.
In the afternoon, the teachers presented the lessons plans they have been working on all week. Nate McAlister does an incredible job of teaching these educators how to teach literacy through the study of history. He is the heart and soul of the Princeton Seminar.
We ended the night hanging out with some teachers at the Bent Spoon in Princeton.
After two weeks of work with Gilder-Lehrman in Mount Vernon, Boston, and Princeton, I am ready to go home, but I leave these experienced energized and ready to get back to work on writing and teaching projects. Stay tuned.
Day 5 of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America is in the books. It was a long day, but a very good one. In the morning I lectured on the Middle Colonies, South Carolina, and the Enlightenment in America.
In the afternoon we walked to the Firestone Library at Princeton University and saw some rare books from colonial America. Eric White, curator of rare books at Princeton, introduced the teachers to book history and showed us copies of books by William Penn, John Locke, John Eliot, Phillis Wheatley, Cotton Mather, Increase Mather, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Laurence Sterne, and others. He also showed us one of the original Dunlap broadsides of the Declaration of Independence. This is always one of my favorite moments of the week. I love to watch the teachers read original copies of these seminal works. Many of them gasp when the book is revealed. Others are moved to tears.
After dinner we hit streets of Princeton. Landon and Richard, both tour guides for the Princeton Historical Society, introduced us to historic Princeton University. As is often the case, the evening ended at the Yankee Tap Room where I introduced several teachers to the Campari. (And thanks to the teachers who bought my rounds!).
Some additional pics:
Day 4 of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America is in the books. We spent the entire day in colonial Philadelphia with George Boudreau, author of Independence: A Guide to Historical Philadelphia.
George took us on a very informative tour of the site of William Penn’s house, Front Street (the site of the 17th and 18th-century wharfs), the site of the London Coffee Shop (where slave trading took place), the site where George Whitefield preached to tens of thousands of people (as described by Ben Franklin in his Autobiography), Franklin Square and the underground museum, the William White House, Carpenter’s Hall, and the site of Anthony Benezet’s school for women and free blacks. The teachers also toured the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) and some of them joined me for quick stops at the Free Quaker Meeting House, Franklin’s grave, Arch Street Meeting House, Betsy Ross House, and Christ Church).
Here are some pics:
Day 2 of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America is in the books. This morning I challenged the teachers to think about the colonial period on its own terms. What kind of stories would we tell about colonial America if the American Revolution never happened? Whose voices would count? How do we avoid our natural inclination to dabble in Whig history–an approach to the colonial America that privileges the way in which the colonies contributed to the rise of American democracy, American exceptionalism, and American institutions?
We also discussed the economic factors that prompted European exploration and colonization of North America and how such mercantilistic endeavors brought changes to native American cultures. I asked the students to think about some of the major interpretive frameworks of the New Indian History: “Facing East,” the “Middle Ground,” and the “Indians New World.”
Nate McAlister, our master-teacher, took-over in the afternoon. He is working with the teachers on creating colonial-era lesson plans. The teachers seemed energized. I wandered into Labyrinth Books on Nassau Street around 4:30pm and found a dozen or so teachers, after seven hours in the classroom, swarming the American history section. It doesn’t get any better than this! 🙂
Thunderstorms and a flash-flood warning in the Princeton area forced us to reschedule our tour of historic Princeton. We will try again on Thursday night.
Tomorrow we will focus on the Chesapeake, New England, and the Middle Colonies.
I am in the at the midpoint of two weeks of work with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History. As some of you know, this last week I was in Mount Vernon, Virginia and Boston filming a 12-week lecture course on colonial America for elementary school history and social studies teachers. We filmed the lectures in a hotel in Framingham, Massachusetts and filmed five-minute lecture introductions in the tobacco fields and at the slave quarters at Mount Vernon, the Reynolds Museum at Mount Vernon, the Boston Long Wharf, Old South Meetinghouse, King’s Chapel Burial Ground, the Massachusetts State House, Harvard University, the Boston Public Library, and Boston College. It was hot and the work was rigorous (one day I gave five 50-minutes lectures to a camera!), but this kind of work is rewarding and hopefully useful to teachers–the men and women on the front lines of preserving, sustaining, and strengthening our democracy.
Thanks to the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for the opportunity to work on this course. And special thanks to Sarah Jannarone and Peter Shea of Gilder-Lehrman and Garrett Kafchinski of Diagonal Media for all their hard work this week.
I understand that this course will be published at the Gilder-Lehrman website as part of its forthcoming “History Essentials” series sometime next year. Stay tuned
Tomorrow I will be back in Princeton for what is becoming an annual event: the Gilder Lehrman Institute summer seminar on Colonial America. Stay tuned. I will be blogging every day from Princeton. (Click here to see some of my posts from 2018). As always, I will be working with Nate McAlister. Nate is my partner-in-crime, a high school history teacher in Kansas, and the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year!
Here are some pics from 2018. I am hoping for another great week:
We are entering Year 6 of the seminar. Join us in Princeton this summer! Read posts from the last six years here.
Here are details from the Gilder-Lehrman website:
Rather than thinking about colonial America as a necessary forerunner to the American Revolution or the birth of the United States, we will make an effort to understand British colonial life on its own terms, examining how the colonies developed from remote seventeenth-century English outposts to well-connected eighteenth-century provinces of the British Empire. In the process we will critique the so-called “Whig” interpretation of the colonies and think together about how this particular period in the American past provides a laboratory for teaching historical thinking skills in the classroom.
TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATIONS
Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will reimburse up to $400 in travel expenses. Read the policy here. Participants will be staying at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. Princeton is equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia and is easily accessible by train. The nearest airport is Newark Liberty International Airport. For more information on travel to Princeton, please click here.
Workshop participants will stay in on-campus residence halls in their own room, but share bathrooms and common space on each floor. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shower shoes, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.
Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation and travel reimbursement before applying.
COURSE REVIEWS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS
“Dr. John Fea did a remarkable job sharing his knowledge in the area of the 13 colonies. His passion for history is evident in his lectures and I am more motivated today to teach tomorrow. I have always been intimidated by the 13 colonies because each colony’s background is so diverse. I have a better grasp on the colonies and I will be able to share primary documents to support the classroom learning. I am looking forward to teaching this in the coming weeks.”
“Thoroughly enjoyed the week in NJ. Strengthened my content background & walked away with tons of resources (primary specifically) to take back to my classroom.”
“This seminar was the best thing I have experienced in 25 years of teaching. Dr. Fea was outstanding and his lectures were riveting. I appreciated the content, the setting, and the master teacher’s assistance. It was amazing and memorable. I will certainly be applying this content and these principles to my teaching this year.”
Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.