Histories of Schooling and Schools as History

School is a fact of life. Every year since 1900, schoolhouses have enrolled an ever-greater share of American children, produced ever-larger cohorts of high school graduates, and received ever-increasing investment and oversight by all levels of the American state. The unprecedented interruption of schooling by the COVID-19 pandemic provides an occasion to look back on the history of our “schooled” society.

This seminar explores major historiographical issues in the study of American schooling, with Chicagoland as a case in point. We’ll examine the rise of mass schooling, the movement for teacher unionism, the struggles for educational desegregation, and the emergence of choice-and-accountability reform. As a working group, we’ll also explore how K-12 teachers can use their own schoolhouses and communities as tools in the project-based teaching of American history. Our students are surrounded by artifacts—from the architecture, artwork, and equipment of the school plant, to the old yearbooks and trophies in libraries and display cases, to the living networks of alumni in our communities. Together, we’ll learn methods of caring for this heritage, of mobilizing it as a source for historical inquiry, and of using these projects to hook students on the work of doing history.

Please note that attendance in all scheduled seminar sessions is required for full CPDU credit.