An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop hosted by the Spencer Museum of Art

Overview and Guiding Questions

Overview of the Workshops

Our workshops will explore the history of Native American and African American education through an intensive week of site visits, readings, lectures, interactive presentations, guided tours, and curricular strategy sessions. As the art museum serving both the University of Kansas and the state of Kansas, the Spencer Museum of Art (SMA) is uniquely positioned to offer you opportunities to discover the educational experiences of these historically marginalized populations and to strengthen your curricular strategies for using historic sites, objects, works of art, and other primary sources. These workshops draw on our existing partnerships with leading scholars who research African American and Native American education; archivists and curators who maintain collections that document the experiences of these groups in Kansas; and local alumni and community organizations committed to sharing histories of segregation and integration with today's students. You will also be able to enjoy sustained interaction with our diverse and engaging project faculty throughout the workshops.

Your exploration will be further enriched by ample opportunities to closely study of primary sources and works of art, which will be shared through extended visits to historic sites, local archives, a special exhibition at the Spencer Museum, and physical reproductions of documents and artworks. Throughout, our workshops will maintain a strong focus on studying history through individual experiences and encourage you to consider how historic sites and primary sources, including works of art, can present multiple points of access for a more expansive and inclusive understanding of American history. To that end, you will work independently and in small groups throughout the week to create visual storytelling projects that use photographs, works of art, and archival documents to examine the historic complexities of race in American education. You will also develop an accompanying lesson plan for engaging their students with the histories of Native Americans, African Americans, or other groups relevant to their geographic regions.

Guiding Questions

By the end of the workshops, you should have the content knowledge and skills to respond to three central questions: 

  1. What were the educational experiences of Native Americans and African Americans in Kansas during the 19th and early 20th centuries?
  2. How can you incorporate these experiences into your classroom teaching? 
  3. How do diverse perspectives complicate dominant narratives of American history and culture? 

We will work towards answering these questions by investigating specific examples of racial disparity in American educational systems. Each day, we will be guided by two questions: one focused on workshop content, the other on pedagogical strategies aimed at helping you incorporate this content into your teaching in practical ways. For a more detailed, chronological day-by-day overview, click on the Daily Schedule link above.

Daily Questions
Sunday: (1) What was the racial landscape of Kansas at the turn of the 20th century, and how did it impact the education of American African American and Native Americans? (2) How can multiculturalism and respect for diversity be fostered in classrooms?

Monday: (1) What were the motivations for establishing separate and distinct educational systems for Native Americans in the early 19th century? (2) What primary sources are available for use in classroom settings, and how might teachers and students access them?

Tuesday: (1) What policies led to the establishment of Native American boarding schools, and what was life like for students who attended them? (2) How can art- and object-based learning contribute to educational curricula?

Wednesday: (1) How do the educational policies for and experiences of Kansas’s first African Americans differ from those of Native communities? (2) How can teachers and students study and experience cultural landmarks when travel is not possible?

Thursday: (1) What was the rationale for creating a segregated high school, Sumner High School, in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1905, and how does the history of education in Kansas challenge perceptions of a monolithic African American perspective on segregation and the Civil Rights movement? (2) How can technology and new media connect students with American history?

Friday: (1) How did the Brown v. Board of Education case come about, and how did the ruling change the face of education in the United States? (2) How do visits to historic landmarks and their onsite sources complicate and enrich teachers’ understandings about key moments in American history?

Saturday: (1) Have your perceptions of the history of race and education in American shifted, and if so, in what ways? 2) How will the content explored this week be applied in your individual subject areas and classrooms?

 You can also use the links below the main menu bar at the top of the page to learn about the expectations and professional development opportunities in our workshops.



Dates of Workshop Sessions

Session I: June 18-24, 2017 

Session II: July 9-15, 2017

Contact Information

Cassandra Mesick Braun, Project Co-Director: | 785-864-6794

Celka StraughnProject Co-Director: | 785-864-0136

Sydney PurselProject Intern: | 785-864-5253

The University of Kansas
Spencer Museum of Art
1301 Mississippi Street
Lawrence, KS 66045  | 785-864-4710

Spencer Museum of Art University of Kansas

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today