Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, 2022
Bringing together voices from across the educational spectrum, from K-12 teachers to university and public historians, Teaching Independence will consider the challenges of teaching the Declaration of Independence, the history of the American Revolution, and the nation's founding, in the 21st century. This is the first program of America 250 at Penn.
This participatory conference will include presentations, roundtables, and breakout sessions for facilitated conversations.
Recordings of these sessions will be made available via youtube, and links will be provided on this page.
See also: "America as it actually was: Symposium confronts American myth, complexities of teaching 1776 in light of 1619," Penn GSE News, Apri 1, 2022.
Friday, March 25
The symposium will begin on Friday, March 25, at 3 pm, at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies (MCEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania, with a roundtable. The event will be hybrid: in person or on Zoom. Presenters will reflect on how educators can tackle the thorny public debates that have arisen around “founding” dates, in particular 1619 and 1776. They will also address current debates over Critical Race Theory. Speakers include:
- Mia Bay, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Chair in American History, University of Pennsylvania
- Abby Reisman, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
- Ismael Jimenez, Social Studies Curriculum Specialist at School District of Philadelphia
- Thomas Richards, History teacher, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and former MCEAS fellow
Saturday, March 26
The symposium continues on Saturday, March 26, with two separate three-hour sessions that seek to introduce teachers from a variety of school levels to new themes and questions that are being posed about 1776, the Revolution, and its legacies, and to investigate ways of translating these questions into classroom practice. Each session will begin with presentations; continue with a roundtable of voices from various teaching perspectives (K-12, college/university, public history, and museum/library); and conclude with breakout sessions in which all attendees may participate.
9:00am-noon: Monuments and Memory explores ways in which public monuments, and the places and spaces in which they exist, shape memory and are themselves shaped by understandings of history. The session will begin with brief presentations by Laurie Allen (Senior Research Advisor to Monument Lab), who co-edited the recently released National Monument Audit, and Lightning Jay (Post-doctoral fellow, Graduate School of Education), who has studied the Octavius Catto monument in Philadelphia. These will be followed by a roundtable and facilitated breakout sessions.
1:00pm-4:00pm: Me v. We explores the languages of rights, responsibilities, citizenship, inclusion and exclusion in the Declaration and more broadly in early America. The session will begin with short presentations by Jessica Roney (Associate Professor of History, Temple University) and Adrienne Whaley (Director of Engagement and Community Education, Museum of the American Revolution). These will be followed by a roundtable and facilitated breakout sessions.