Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Great Morning in Savannah

I returned to Savannah this morning to work with 45 or so elementary school teachers who are participating in the Savannah-Chatham Public Schools Teaching American History Grant.  It was the first time I had the opportunity to teach the American Enlightenment to 4th grade teachers (and a smattering of other grades as well, including a 1st grade teacher who grew up in Beach Haven, New Jersey!).  The session was held in the historic Massie School.  What a treat!

I was unsure how to make the Enlightenment interesting to these teachers, so rather than spend too much time being overly didactic, I decided to tell them a few stories.  I lectured on the parallel lives of Ben Franklin and Philip Vickers Fithian as a way to get them to grasp key Enlightenment principles like self-improvement, cosmpolitanism, the break with tradition, etc...  I think it worked well.  I also want to commend all of those teachers who read all of The Way of Improvement Leads Home in preparation for the session. I have always said that the book rewards the faithful reader and, after listening to their comments, I think those who worked their way through it were rewarded.

Thanks again to the folks at the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for letting me work with so many great teachers, both in Savannah and around the country.  Thanks to Chris Mercer for his hospitality in Savannah and Judy Newsome for the ride to the airport and the quick driving tour of the Savannah historic district.  I told Judy that the next time I return to Savannah I need to spend more than 12 hours!  Here's hoping for a return visit.