[vc_row margin_bottom=”15″][vc_column][dt_banner image_id=”13994″ bg_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.12)” min_height=”270″][/dt_banner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][dt_quote]The Barringer Fellowship allowed me to not only create a set of three fully-resourced lessons on Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty, but to share ideas and experiences with great teachers from across the US, writes Adam Burns. I would very much urge other school teachers who focus on US history or politics to apply for this fellowship in 2017.[/dt_quote][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]As the recipient of the 2016 BAAS Barringer Fellowship, I was fortunate enough to attend the week-long Monticello Teacher Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia this July. The institute, based at Monticello and the University of Virginia (both designed by Thomas Jefferson), aims to provide an immersive experience for school History and Social Studies teachers, primarily in the US. However, thanks to BAAS, each year a British fellow joins around fifteen other teachers to enhance their teaching of early US history and add to Monticello’s vast set of online resources for teachers[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text](https://www.seaofliberty.org and http://classroom.monticello.org, though the two sites are currently in the process of being merged).
On arrival in Charlottesville, the group was soon whisked up the hill to Monticello for a guided tour of Thomas Jefferson’s house, with the rare opportunity to take plenty of photographs (something usually prohibited). After this, we retreated to the garden (which showcases heritage vegetables of the type grown by Jefferson, himself a keen horticulturalist), for a drinks reception as the sun set behind neighbouring Montalto – quite a spectacular start to a busy and immensely enjoyable week.
In the week that followed we were tasked with using our various site tours and library visits to create lesson resources that will be placed online for future use by those teaching Thomas Jefferson and early US history. Each participant focused on something quite different – from Jefferson’s role in the conflict with the Barbary pirates to his relationship with the (suddenly very fashionable) Alexander Hamilton. My focus was American imperialism, and how Jefferson managed to reconcile his dreams of expanding the United States to create an “Empire of Liberty” while himself maintaining a plantation that exploited enslaved labourers. Jefferson felt that slavery was an issue for the next generation to deal with and, though he expected the institution would eventually die out, in later life he supported the spread of slavery into US territories.
During the week, my thoughts about what my lesson plans would focus upon and the key themes they would address developed immensely. Among the many excellent activities we participated in, the session with Professor Peter Onuf was particularly useful, allowing me to pick his expert brain on the concept of an “Empire of Liberty”. His responses were incredibly valuable in shaping my reading during our study periods at the International Center for Jefferson Studies across the rest of the week. Another particularly useful activity was our Hemings family tour of Monticello, led by Brandon Dillard. This proved invaluable in helping me to understand Jefferson’s complex and contradictory views on slavery (the Hemings being one of the enslaved families).
In addition to these activities, we were also given an introduction to highlights of UVA’s special collections, a presentation from archaeologists working at Monticello, a guided tour of the UVA campus, and a visit to Montalto to discuss our ongoing projects with Gary Sandling, another Jefferson specialist from Monticello. On the final day each member of the group presented their finished lesson plans and resources (while being streamed online), and I was amazed at how much the group had achieved in so short a time – a very diverse and creative set of lessons on Jefferson that will hopefully be of use to a good number of teachers in the future.
In terms of professional development, the Barringer Fellowship allowed me not only to create a set of three fully-resourced lessons on Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty, but also to share ideas and experiences with great teachers from across the US, and benefit from the expertise of the many helpful scholars at Monticello. Alongside the formal sessions, the chance to talk with the other teachers more informally in the evenings was also a huge boon, and the group were incredibly supportive of one another across the week. The MTI was expertly run by Jacqueline Langholtz, Melanie Bowyer, Lora Cooper and Anna Barr and they really did help to make our trip a truly memorable one. I would like to take this opportunity to thank BAAS and the MTI for giving me the chance to participate in the teaching institute this year and would very much urge other school teachers who focus on US history or politics to apply for this fellowship in 2017.
Adam Burns is currently the Head of History and Politics at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in Bristol, and his book, American Imperialism: The Territorial Expansion of the United States, 1783-2013, is scheduled for publication early next year as part of the BAAS Paperbacks series.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]Archive