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We the Teachers

Seminar Discussions Inspire a Teacher to Reevaluate the Founding

December 17, 2019

by Ellen Tucker

Junius Stearns Brutus, Life of George Washington—The Farmer (c. 1853). Library of Congress, LC-DIG-pga-02419.

Derek Collins discovered his deeper vocation after beginning his job at Latta Public School near Ada, Oklahoma. Originally, he’d chosen to teach social studies so that he could coach. After putting in about three years on the job, he realized the teaching meant more to him than the coaching did. More than by pushing them to compete athletically, he could help young people by pushing them to think.

One of the most important things they need to consider is what it means to be an American citizen. Teaching American history means teaching a complicated story, in which a people begin by declaring all human beings created equal, yet delay securing for all groups the rights they believe them entitled to. It’s easier to teach the Declaration as a dramatic “break-up letter” Americans sent Britain than to take its words seriously. But one “can get in a rut,” teaching this story the same uninspiring way year in and year out.

Collins re-energized his sense of vocation after two TAH seminars caused him to think again about whether the founders really meant what they said about human equality.

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