Skip to main content

Gilder Lehrman Institute Partnership in Third Year

A first draft of the Constitution compared with the final...Frederick Douglass's letter to his former master...the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. 

These were some of the documents that our sixth graders analyzed this morning as James Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, led a workshop for the boys and their parents in the Hume Library on "Why Documents Matter.'"

Today the boys got a taste of what they will experience when they and their teachers visit the actual GLI vault at the New-York Historical Society that houses the original documents. This is the third year of our school's partnership with this prestigious institution, which through the Gilder Lehrman Collection holds a vast archive of more than 60,000 primary source documents and artifacts.

First draft of the US Constitution (Aug. 1787), left; final version (Sept. 1787), right.
In today's session boys learned that having access to original documents, complete with scratch-out edits, enables a researcher to look beyond the words to the strategy, thinking process and emotions of the writer. For example, when comparing a first draft of the Constitution with the final version, boys could see how the writers changed from identifying themselves as representatives of individual states to "We the People of the United States," marking, as Professor Basker noted, "a magic moment" in our nation's history.

When the boys saw that Frederick Douglass, in writing to his former master, declared, "I love you, but hate Slavery," they got a glimpse into the heart of this leading abolitionist.  And, they proposed that the 16th President signed the Thirteenth Amendment as "Abraham Lincoln" rather than with his customary "A. Lincoln," to underscore both the significance of the Amendment and his support of it.

The boys will visit the GLI Collection as part of their study of American History, in a course that emphasizes the value of documentary evidence in its original context. There, they will learn via interaction, exploration, and engagement with the "real thing."

Deliberate moral introspection is our school's theme for this year and our collaboration with Gilder Lehrman provides our boys with the opportunity to deliberately analyze an original source document from multiple angles and perspectives, parsing it for the clues offered and the truths, often moral, it may point to.

Boys love to discover.  This is learning at its best.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.



Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.


The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.


Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Sono arrivati in Italia!

Eighth graders and their teachers have arrived in Rome and are enjoying the first day of the 10-day Italian Study Tour.


Their first stop was St. Paul's Outside the Walls, where Cardinal Harvey, Archpriest of the papal basilica, provided a tour. Later, the boys visited the Spanish Steps, and toured the Pantheon.




Over the next two weeks the boys will visit sites in Rome, Assisi, and Florence. They will see in person the paintings, sculpture, and architecture that they have studied in the interdisciplinary humanities class. Each day their understanding will be deepened as they write about the experience and sketch the various works in their journals.


This trip is an exceptional opportunity for our boys to augment their in-class learning, build experience as citizens of the world beyond New York City, and strengthen their bonds as a graduating class.

I can't wait to join the boys and their teachers later in the week!