Schooling and Heritage in Chicagoland

Recent events have given us new occasions to look back on the history of our "schooled" society. The unprecedented pandemic interruptions of 2020-21 were a reminder of schooling's centrality to the social order. Meanwhile, renewed debates over the role of slavery and empire in American public commemoration underscore how the naming and ornamentation of schoolhouses preserve cultural patrimony. This seminar explores major historiographical issues in the study of American schooling, with Chicagoland as a case study. We'll examine the rise of compulsory 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. Together, we'll learn methods of caring for this heritage, of mobilizing it as a source base for historical inquiry, and of using these projects to hook students onto the work of “doing history.”