American Council of Learned Societies
Occasional Paper No. 23
Teaching the Humanities:
Essays from the ACLS Elementary and
Secondary Schools Teacher Curriculum
Moving to the Other Side of the Desk:
Teachers Stories of Self-Fashioning
Transforming Canons, Transforming Teachers
Edward L. Rocklin
Shaping the Multicultural Curriculum:
Biblical Encounters with the Other
Nationalism, History, the Chicano Subject, and the Text
Darlene Emily Hicks
Ms. Higgins and the Culture Warriors:
Notes Toward the Creation of an
Eighth Grade Humanities Curriculum
John G. Ramsay
History and the Humanities:
The Politics of Objectivity and
The Promise of Subjectivity
Toward a Curriculum of Hope:
The Essential Role of Humanities Scholarship
in Public School Teaching
Paul A. Fideler
The papers in this number of the American Council of Learned Societies Occasional Paper series are the work of scholars who received support as post-secondary fellows in 199293 in our Elementary and Secondary Schools Teacher Curriculum Development project. That project seeks to familiarize teachers with current developments in the humanities; support their development of curricular materials based on their studies; and disseminate those materials. Those public school teachers joining the ACLS project are expected to involve other teachers at their home schools and with support from central offices they are expected to involve other teachers throughout their districts in becoming familiar with contemporary scholarship in the humanities and in the development and use of curricular materials that are both appropriate and challenging for their students.
Since 199293, ACLS has been establishing these collaborative programs at sites around the country. At each site there is a year-long workshop on a topic in the humanities of wide interest, facilitated by one or more distinguished scholars from a local research university, working with up to a dozen teacher-fellows from the local public schools.
In 199293 each workshop also included
the participation of ACLS post-secondary fellows, selected by competitions among humanities scholars at colleges and universities in the vicinity of the host university. During their workshop year the post-secondary fellows participated in the workshops at their sites, joined with the teacher-fellows in the common project of their workshop, visited schools, participated in various ACLS national activities, and pursued their own research. The terms of their fellowships required the production of a report on their fellowship year and a scholarly paper. Nearly all the 199293 fellows far exceeded that requirement, completing or initiating book-length projects or multiple papers, as well as spending much more time than was expected with the teacher-fellows in their workshops, which in most cases they have continued to do in the year following their fellowships.
The papers in this volume are interrelated, a poly-vocal discussion, as it were, concerning topics that arose during the workshops. These papers speak to one another, and, in most cases, also speak to the work of individual teachers and to the general projects of the workshops in which their authors participated. This dialogic aspect of the papers was itself the result of on-going conversations among the post-secondary fellows during their fellowship year, and is a good representation of the spirit of the project itself.
The first paper in the following pages is by Linda Wells, of Boston University, who was a participant in the Harvard workshop, facilitated by Professor Vito Perrone. Professor Wells has written about Moving to the Other Side of the Desk: Teachers Stories of Self-Fashioning, her work with teachers from the Cambridge and Brookline public schools bringing her to an interest in the way in which teachers fashion themselves throughout their careers. Professor Wells own story of self-fashioning is particularly striking.
Four papers by professors of literature form a section on canon. Professor Edward L. Rocklin, of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, has written about Transforming Canons, Transforming Teachers. Professor Lois Feuer, of California State University, Dominguez Hills, has written about Shaping the Multicultural Curriculum: Biblical Encounters with the Other. Professors Rocklin and Feuer participated in the UCLA workshop, facilitated by Professor Karen Rowe. Professor Darlene Emily Hicks, of San Diego State University, has written about Nationalism, History, the Chicano Subject, and the Text, questions of Chicano and Chicana literature, as informed by her experience with teachers in multicultural classrooms in San Diego and Los Angeles. She was a participant in the UCSD workshop, facilitated by Professor Steven Hahn. And Professor John Ramsay, of Carleton College, who was a participant in the University of Minnesota workshop facilitated by Professor Marcia Eaton, has written a paper entitled Ms. Higgins and the Culture Warriors: Notes Toward the Creation of an Eighth Grade Humanities Curriculum.
Two papers by professors of history form a comparable section. Another participant in the UCSD workshop, Professor Eve Kornfeld, of San Diego State University, has written about History and the Humanities: The Politics of Objectivity and the Promise of Subjectivity, an issue that represents for historians a set of historical circumstances and theoretical problems similar to that of the question of canon for literary scholars. And Professor Paul Fideler, of Lesley College, who was a participant in the Harvard Workshop, has written Toward a Curriculum of Hope: The Essential Role of Humanities Scholarship in Public School Teaching, where he engages curricular issues in the light of the rethinking of history itself.
Each of these papers is thought-provoking on its own, while the set brings us into that conversation about the nature of humanities scholarship that can be heard in seminar rooms and convention corridors throughout the country. They differ, as a set, from what might usually be found in the journals of the learned societies, in that they also are participants in another conversation, unfortunately less usual, between teachers of post-secondary students and those of elementary and secondary students. That there has been such a conversation within the ACLS workshops is a signal mark of success for those workshops, and a tribute to all involved. It might have been anticipated that there would be no conversation at all, that there simply would be a set of lectures, as each participant fell unto a customary role given the prestigious locations of the workshops professors speaking, teachers taking notes. And yet that did not happen. The workshop facilitators Professors Eaton, Hahn, Perrone, and Rowe came to ACLS as practitioners of an ideal of a community of scholars, an ideal that they shared with both the post-secondary fellows and with the elementary and secondary teacher-fellows who joined them in the workshops at Minnesota, UCSD, Harvard, and UCLA. Moving from that ideal to the practice that ultimately characterized each of the workshops
was not easy (the participants in one of the workshops characterized it as a contentious dialogue), but it was ultimately successful, as can be seen in the tone of the papers in this volume.
In addition to thanking the workshop participants teacher-fellows and facilitators for their work during the year that informed these papers, I would like to thank Douglas Greenberg, now President and Director of the Chicago Historical Society, whose idea it was, when he was Vice President of ACLS, to bring these papers out in this series. Professor Greenberg devoted an extraordinary amount of time and energy to the Elementary and Secondary School Teacher Curriculum Development project during its planning and initial year, and was particularly attentive to the post-secondary fellows. Stanley N. Katz, President of ACLS, initially envisioned the project and secured its funding, and has been intimately involved with its various and multiplying activities. And finally, the ACLS Board of Directors Committee on Publications, Education, and Scholarly Communication has been strongly supportive of these activities: Professor Mario Valdes, Chair; Professor James Millar, and Professor Martha Nussbaum.
The ACLS Elementary and Secondary Schools Teacher Curriculum Development project is supported by core grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the DeWitt Wallace-Readers Digest Fund, and an anonymous funder. Additional funding is provided by the host universities and districts and local foundations.