A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gettysburg and "history as art"

We arrived in Gettysburg on Friday and after checking into our hotel and having dinner, we went right into a session with Dr. Allen Guelzo from Gettysburg College. Dr. Guelzo is the recipient of two Lincoln Prizes, given to one book each year for its contribution to scholarship on Lincoln.Dr. Guelzo's lecture encouraged us to embrace the complexity that was Lincoln. He also encouraged us to look at history as art. He spoke of history as an expression about a people and a time born out of interest and empathy. He said it much more eloquently than I am writing it, but I've been thinking about that for the past couple days.
Saturday we had three sessions beginning with Dr. Morel and a discussion about three of Lincoln's early speeches as a politician. What I like about sitting in one of Dr. Morel's lectures is that there is an expected give and take. He asks questions looking not necessary for the right 'answer' but an answer that gets us on the field and moving toward that answer. To participate, you have to know the material, not in a regurgitated ATM sort of way but an organic way of moving toward a concept or big idea. Its a teaching style which encourages participation and requires preparation. You want to get in the game. It is a pleasure to listen to what the other participants have to say about the Lyceum Speech or in response to the handbill pronouncing Lincoln an atheist. The last two sessions focused on Lincoln, abolition and self-government. Dr. Guelzo's explanation of Locke's view on the formation of government is going almost word for word and example for example in my class discussion. Its sort of Lord of the Flies meets Federalist One.
We were given a bit of free time in the past few days to pad around Gettysburg and the first thing that comes to mind is that it's a Norman Rockwell painting. Perfect little town. We had free time on Sunday and I had the chance to attend Gettysburg Presbyterian Church. Lincoln attended a service here the day before the Gettysburg Address and it was the church home of President Eisenhower during his retirement from public service. Nice service and very gracious people. The congregants were gracious enough to let me take a couple pictures (hospitality is the lifeblood of Gettysburg according to member) and they are below.

John Burns was a member of Gettysburg Presbyterian Church when Lincoln attended on the night before the address. He was thanked by President Lincoln and this marker is bolted on that pew.

 The Wills House, where Lincoln stayed while in Gettysburg

The Gettysburg Hotel. This is where we are staying and is literally across the street from the Wills house.

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