Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Another Year, And More Teachers Taught

As summer is quickly winding to a close, many parents are turning to the task of preparing their children for the return to school. But who prepares their teachers? Despite state-mandated requirements for teachers to obtain advanced degrees, the masters’ degree programs geared toward teachers all emphasize the mechanics of teaching, rather than the substance of the subjects to be taught. All but one, that is. The Master of American History and Government stands unique in offering a substantive program in American history designed to better equip history teachers to know and teach their subject. Using the best professors—great teachers and scholars from universities across the country—and primary sources which bring the subject to life, the program offers a series of intense, one-week seminars offered during the summer to accommodate teachers’ schedules.

As I am writing this, we are wrapping up our last week of the summer classes, during which teachers from all fifty states (plus the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories!) have studied topics such as The American Revolution, The American Founding, Sectionalism and the Civil War, and The American Presidency. The response from the teachers is humbling. Just last week, I was standing outside the Center when one of the teachers came up to me on her way out to her car. She thanked me for what had been a great week of classes, and commented on how much new material she had learned that she would bring back to her classroom. She said that she was sorry to have to leave. It was at this point that I noticed that she was crying—tears literally streaming down her face—as she explained how much she looked forward to coming back and learning more. As I said, humbling.

The Master in American History and Government is an important project that we have undertaken, but like all important projects, it requires generous contributors to continue. So, with the coming rush of back-to-school, please take a few minutes, and give a tax-deductible donation to help us teach more teachers.

Discussions - 5 Comments

The Saturday seminars and summer classes instilled in me a great love and passion for America's Founders and Founding principles that I brought into the classroom. Wrestling with all those primary sources, rather than merely "the literature" as in most master's programs kindled an ember in me for writing "popular" history books about America's Founding. Six manuscripts later and my first forthcoming book with a major publisher later, I can attest that this is simply an incredible program. My entire life was changed by the experience. I don't know if manliness will allow tears to fall from my eyes, but my soul stirs with gratitude and excitement about the program, its director, professors, fellow participants - and most importantly, the profound subject matter. You get to converse with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, James Wilson, Benjamin Franklin, and the other great ancient and modern statesmen and thinkers. Thank you, Peter, for invited a humble teacher into that conversation as an equal.

Never a participant, but somehow a beneficiary, kudos to you, Peter, and the cast of exemplary teachers you've assembled. Ad multos annos!

Congratulations, Tony!

There were many new faces this year as the program was expanded a little more. One very liberal young woman was very upset because she was being faced, intellectually, with so much that she did not know. This was particularly upsetting because it was CONSERVATIVES who held the greater knowledge in the classroom. The foundations of her world were being shaken because conservatives were not only not stupid, but were incredibly kind and full of goodness toward her. That was not possible in her prior paradigm. Another life transformed? Probably. She promised to come back next year.

It really is the most wonderful program: challenging and, frankly, exhausting. I'll bet that weepy woman Peter mentioned was not just grateful, (and I know she was, as we all are,) but also very tired. Permutation takes a lot out of us.

I hope the Presidential Academy was also a great success.

Thanks, Kate, and I would agree with your comments above. But, one thing that is great about the Ashbrook program is that it is non-ideological. Its only agenda is to promote foundational principles and to have teachers and students wrestle with the great documents of American history. It's a substantive conversation about documents and great ideas - i.e., content over "methodology." There's no partisan cause there. At least that's how I understand the program.

Tony, as you see it is how I have seen and understood it, too. However, it was not how that young woman, with two degrees in Women's Studies and teaching certification, saw it. That she was loving something "conservative" on her terms surprised her. I am merely reporting from conversations and because hers was a different perspective from mine and maybe interesting to those readers who might be persuaded to give. That perspective is truly not that unusual among the teachers who attend. I cannot say there is no ideology in the program, but if there is any suasion in it, that is not overt, but perhaps inherent in the ideas and documents. Is it "Liberal", as academia understands it today, to even look at those texts?

Also, it was the politically conservative people (merely more conservative than she?) who she met in the classroom, of the faculty and on the staff who surprised her as I put it above.

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