The Teaching with Primary Sources Program at Eastern Illinois University was recently informed that the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is endorsing a College of Education and Professional Studies' program -- the Learning with Lincoln Institute.
To encourage broad public participation in the bicentennial, the commission endorses programs that embody the bicentennial's message of "freedom, democracy and equal opportunity." Programs must demonstrate to the commission's satisfaction that a proposed project meets at least one of the bicentennial goals:
• Increasing knowledge and awareness of Lincoln in the U.S. and abroad;
• Encouraging public participation and attendance at bicentennial activities and institutions;
• Increasing historical literacy about Lincoln for young people;
• Encouraging research, scholarship and increased understanding of Lincoln ;
• Leveraging the bicentennial for discussion of bicentennial themes of freedom, democracy and equal opportunity, thus serving as a catalyst for conversation and engagement of diverse perspectives; and
• Creating a lasting legacy of Lincoln themes and contributions to endure beyond the bicentennial.
The Learning with Lincoln Institute was developed by the Teaching with Primary Sources programs at Eastern and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Local teachers from all disciplines and grade levels were encouraged to apply to participate in the program that will study the benefits of imbedding primary sources in teaching.
As excitement builds surrounding the coming Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration, participants will focus on the societal, personal and professional events occurring during Lincoln 's lifetime to develop resources. These materials will be produced for classroom use to increase students' historical literacy skills incorporating the digitized primary sources of the Library of Congress.
Cindy Rich, director of Eastern's Teaching with Primary Sources Project, acknowledged that "this endorsement increases our visibility, but it also validates the Learning with Lincoln Institute, the importance of professional development for teachers and the valuable role educators assume when being catalysts for learning about the life and times of President Lincoln through the integration of Library of Congress' digitized primary sources."
The Learning with Lincoln Institute is included in a list of endorsed projects on the commission's Web site (http://www.lincolnbicentennial.gov). Teaching with Primary Sources is a program of the Education Outreach Division of the Library of Congress, and was brought to EIU through the efforts of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin.
Educators selected through an application process will engage in research, scholarship, curriculum design and collaboration for new ideas to engage students and increase personal knowledge of Lincoln. Learning experiences created will be collected and published for sharing with others in the field of education at the local, state and national levels.
In addition to studying pedagogy and best practices in classroom instruction, area teachers will visit a number of local historic sites relative to Lincoln. The final meeting is a symposium held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.
The Summer 2007 Learning with Lincoln Program at EIU will be attended by a select group of teachers from the Charleston, Paris and Chrisman school districts. Teachers were asked to identify leadership positions held within education, current use of primary sources and possible topics for exploration.
Although the Summer 2007 session is full, future sessions are being planned, and information will be available on Eastern's Teaching with Primary Sources website ( http://www.eiu.edu/eiutps).