You get to create a new school! Thomas Jefferson did that when he founded the University of Virginia. Create a promotional poster that answers the following: How is your school inspired, if at all, by Jefferson’s and other founding fathers’ views on education? How will it be different?
This challenge encourages students to examine primary sources in order to learn about views of education in Jefferson’s time and learn how the founding fathers viewed education as an important part of self-governance. We selected the topic of “school” or “education” since it is something students are already familiar with and can draw comparisons to their own experience. Asking students to make these comparisons requires them to understand the founder’s position in order to make the comparison. For example, students might notice that not everyone was included in the founding father’s plans: girls and women were often excluded from public education plans, as were slaves. Recognizing these differences between then and now will help students better understand the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period’s views on education and show the evolution of education’s role in society.
As an extension, students could comment on their classmates’ posters, noting which points they agree with.
For your school, what ideas do you want to use from the founding fathers? What do you want to be different?