This morning on the AP Gov group, Chad told us that he had a thousand dollars to spend on his government course and he was looking for advice. Instantly, the group started salivating at the thought of what could be done with $1,000 for your classroom.
Instead of actually working, I have spent the morning thinking about how I would answer this question.
Thus this blog post. Many of these things I own, but some I do not. And, this is by no means a complete list. You should see my classroom. Looks like the American flag threw up on it. And I LOVE IT!
Swag for the Classroom
I have a new friend, Trish, who told me that if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
I have been thinking about this a lot over the past few days.
Teaching often places you as the 'smartest,' or in my case, 'most educated,' person in the room on a daily basis. You know, working with high school students and all that jazz. You are attending those meetings, you know the ones that everyone knows should have been an email.
My kids teach me new things every day, but the way teaching has things set up, this tends to be a one way street of me imparting knowledge to students who willingly imbibe said knowledge.
I love this arrangement for what it is, yet I need to be in environments where I am being schooled.
And that is what brings me to the Liberty Fund.
Long story short, I was pondering on my favorite thing to ponder, campaign finance reform. I was thinking about the concept of corporations as people under the 14th Amendment, and was like,
Whoa! That is so weird, cause they totally are not! :(
I got to researching some books to read, including Raoul Berger's Government by Judiciary. Did some more research, and found out that the publisher, Liberty Fund, loves to teach teachers about this and other things related to the government.
They have tons of online resources on liberty and government (which before you go, eh... sounds conservative, remember... there is nothing wrong with exposing yourself to all sides of the debate. You may just learn something!) and they also host a ton of seminars with all kinds of organizations... but the most interesting to me was a joint effort with the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. (You will hear more about these guys in future posts, I promise. They are LEGIT. Besides offering online masters of History to educators, they also run the Teaching American History blog)
I chose the seminar about Slavery and the Constitution just a stone's throw from NoVa... and boy, do I feel lucky to have made the cut.
About that being the smartest one in the room? Yeah, wasn't your girl.
When you are in a room with more Madison Fellows than you can close your fist around, you know you are in for it. We had state and national finalists from the We The People competitions, folks spouting off long passages from Madison's collective thoughts, APs who quit being APs so they can work to make TEACHERS smarter (and who were accomplished teachers on their own accord), teachers who work at Harvard, PhDs, and even an Union negotiator turned English teacher who schooled us on decoding text. Folks who are doing the good, hard work of teaching from every corner of our great nation... from Massachusetts to Florida to Arizona to California and pretty much every other state in between
And oh, yeah, Dr. Gordon Lloyd. Yeah. That Dr. Gordon Lloyd.
We had the whole of Colonial Williamsburg at our command. Research experts and re-enactors who showed us what slavery was like, not just talked to us about it.
We read, ate, and imbibed knowledge. (One of my favorite quotes: I love that we are using words like manumission over a beer. I can't do this at school.) There are other benefits that you receive from the folks at Ashbrook and the Liberty Fund... but I am going to keep that under wraps. Maybe they can be additional surprises for you along the way, things to add delight to the excitement of talking about government and American history with other exquisite minds.
You know what, no. I can't. I don't. But I wish I could.
So, I kind of don't want to tell you about these Seminars offered by the Liberty Fund and Ashbrook. I kind of want to keep it for my own knowledge so I can keep going and don't have to compete with the likeness of YOU.
But that is counterproductive.
You should do it because you are exposed to a landslide of knowledge. You discuss and tease out things that are not apparent in a superficial reading, and that are done under the guise of one of the leading experts on these constitutional issues. There is nothing asked of you except your participation. Your thought. No lesson plans, no convergent thinking. We had liberals and conservatives of all stripes. You network with teachers who are ahhh-mazing. (And seriously, I learned SO much from these teachers. I hope I see them again and again and again.) And you get some well needed rejuvenation with your content.
Because like all kinds of love, date nights with your content bring back that honeymoon phase that fade quickly when working in education. And it is great.
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan