Summer School-For Teachers

Article excerpt

THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER IS KNOWN AS a friendly haven for the leading lights of academia, but two programs recently hosted people that mold students before they ever set foot in a college classroom: school teachers.

One morning in late July saw Warren Cohen, a history professor emeritus at the University of Maryland and a senior scholar with the Center's Asia Program, shuffling papers at the podium in one of the Center's meeting rooms. At the long oval table in front of him, 31 high school history teachers were settling into their seats, nursing hot coffees and chatting about their trip to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office scheduled for later that day. The teachers were in Washington at the joint invitation of the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, a nonprofit that seeks to enhance the knowledge of history teachers in part by organizing 39 free one-week summer seminars at educational institutions across the country.

Cohen cleared his throat and launched into the days first lecture, on the political significance of Taiwan. His talk was supplemented with remarks from Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, a Georgetown University professor and Wilson Center senior scholar. Academics from Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and George Washington University visited the Center during the course of the week to share their expertise with the group. "Most graduate students in the country wouldn't get this opportunity, marveled Christian Ostermann, the director of the Center's Cold War International History Project and its longtime liaison to the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

Judging by the teachers' attentiveness as they scribbled notes during Cohen's talk, they were not taking the occasion for granted. "The lectures have been amazing, gushed Laura Wagner, 25, who teaches advanced placement U.S. history in Minneapolis. Wagner said she applied to the Center's summer seminar, which covered U. …