Old Courthouse

I thoroughly enjoyed the short video on the Old Courthouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I have a much clearer understanding of the Underground Railroad after viewing this video. Using local historical sites is an excellent way to motivate students. While I realize this, it is often difficult to even know the local history to use it in the classroom. For instance, I lived in Denton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for two years. l did not know until today that it was possibly through this town that Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom or that Frederick Douglass was born in nearby Tuckahoe and worked on the Wye Plantation in Easton. I learned this in my research when I visited Maryland Public Television’s website.

While I was not teaching U.S. history, it is surprising to me that I was not aware of the historical significance of this place. I do not recall any historical markers nor was it ever mentioned by anyone in the two years that I spent there. That does not excuse my ignorance, of course.

I would like to say that today I incorporate local history into my classroom, but I truly don’t. As a civics teacher, I have attempted to use local and personal history in my classes, but those efforts are few and far between. For instance, on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, I did have my students complete an oral history interview with someone from the community who lived through the integration of the schools here in Virginia. I am currently trying to develop a lesson on the power of the presidency vis-à-vis the military, using General Douglas MacArthur (who is buried in nearby Norfolk) as the prime example.

I will have to make a concerted effort to develop more community resources and expose my students to more of their local history.

Posted in Digital Storytelling, Discussion
One comment on “Old Courthouse
  1. patriciaabney says:

    I sometimes think about having students research facts about our community, but it quickly vanishes from my mind as the community I teach in is described as the following:
    ” In 2001, according to a feature in the Los Angeles Times, the town was a “wind-swept, tiny unincorporated town nestled in the shadow of a mountain ski resort, just above the vast expanse that is the Mojave Desert. . . . There are no shopping malls here, and the closest movie theater is in Victorville, about 15 miles away.”
    There is history, just not as drenched in our past as would need to be in order to have an enriching class discussion. The Mormon Rocks are close by and it is known that settlers passed through the community on their way to San Bernardino. I did find out that our high school has been called the “Stanford of the High Desert.”

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House Divided Project

Course Professor
Matthew Pinsker: pinskerm@dickinson.edu
Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA 17013

Course Producer
Lance Warren: warren@gilderlehrman.org
Gilder Lehrman Institute
New York, NY 10036