McConnell Center kicks off Teaching American History series
What would the American Founding Fathers have to say about U.S. Presidents who "tweet"? How much power should the president have — at least according to founding documents?
Dr. Gary Gregg, director of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, asked 41 high school teachers these questions — and more — to kick off a 3-year federal Teaching American History grant program.
The grant is coordinated by the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative and allows teachers from Bullitt , Carroll, Franklin, Gallatin, Grant, Hardin, Henry, Owen, Shelby and Trimble counties to travel to historic landmarks, engage primary source documents, learn new pedagogical techniques and network with fellow Kentuckians.
The first year of the program will consider American leadership and will culminate with a summer trip to Springfield, Ill., to visit Abraham Lincoln's home, and Kansas City, Mo., to visit the Harry Truman Presidential Library and World War I museum.
"It's rare to have this kind of funding to support the history of teaching and civics, particularly in this economic climate," said Glenn Manns, a TAH specialist with OVEC. "These opportunities create good collegial networks to enhance our mission of outreach for Kentucky teachers."
At the Sept. 23 kick-off session, Gregg helped teachers explore the heated 18th century debates related to the creation of the presidency and trace the evolution from early founders' concerns of demagoguery to modern presidential practices of televised addresses, "twitters" and polling. Teachers also considered the evolution of presidential powers related to war, peace and international relations and reviewed what Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft thought about the nature, source and scope of their power. Readings were drawn from Thinking about the Presidency: Documents and Essays from the Founding to the Present, edited by Gary L. Gregg II (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005).
Future TAH sessions will explore the history of the judicial branch, progressivism and the presidencies of Washington, Lincoln, Grant and Truman.
OVEC was one of five organizations from Kentucky to receive TAH funding this year. Teachers receive between 50-75 hours of professional development credits through the grant.