A Weekend That Changed Everything
In 2020, Teaching American History will offer twenty free multi-day colloquia for social studies teachers.
These residential programs allow teachers of American history and government to explore the themes of liberty and responsibility throughout America’s history and constitutional tradition. Each multi-day colloquium includes a visit to a site of consequence in American history. Each is led by a historian or political scientist with expertise in our constitutional tradition, who guides participants in reading and analyzing primary documents that illuminate it.
Past participants in TAH’s weekend colloquia have found the experience gives them a new appreciation for the texts and principles of the American founding–often changing the way they teach American history as a whole.
Lauren Goepfert did not begin unlocking the many ways the Constitution illuminates other documents in American history until, while teaching in Florida, she learned from colleagues about Teaching American History seminars. She’d always loved history—her history-loving (he was a guidance counselor) father instilled that in her—“but I had no idea there were other programs I could do.”
That summer she attended a TAH weekend colloquium in Montpelier. “I couldn’t believe I was staying at James Madison’s house, standing on his grounds, looking at places he saw everyday. To look out the same window he looked out of when he was in his library, studying for the Constitutional Convention!” She took a photo of the view and keeps it on her desk at school. To curious students, she explains where she took it and says it reminds her that “anything is possible, as long as you put the work in.”
Professor Gordon Lloyd led the discussions during the weekend in Montpelier. (An expert on the Constitutional Convention, Lloyd has authored several TAH core document collections on the founding, along with interactive exhibits hosted on the TAH website.) At first, Goepfert was hesitant to jump into the conversation. Then Lloyd responded warmly to a question she posed, later telling her, “You should have more confidence. You have good ideas to contribute.” It was all the encouragement she needed to dive in deeper.
“I’d never had discussions like that before. And ever since then, it’s all I’ve wanted to do, to talk to someone about history like that,” Goepfert says. Read more of Lauren’s story here.