John Jay Homestead Conducts Special History Program for Masters Sixth Graders
Posted April 10, 2012
How does the bed linen of founding father John Jay relate to the Constitution of the United States? How did the plight of his Huguenot ancestors help shape our government? Is the construction of the U.S. Supreme Court undemocratic?
These and other questions served as the springboard for discussion about events and issues that affected the citizens in the 1780s and still affect us today, presented recently by historians from the John Jay Homestead in Bedford, New York, to the sixth grade in the Great Hall in The Middle School.
The program, John Jay and the Constitution, was tailor-made for The Masters School by education coordinator Bethany White and volunteer Melissa Vail. The information presented and the flow of conversation between students and experts fueled discussion on whether big change in society is easier to accomplish slowly or swiftly, or if it is right that unelected officials have so much power in our government, and how do you set up a government that allows people to be as religious or unreligious as they want to be and maintain that precept?
“I am always so impressed with our students' critical thinking skills," says Margaret George, sixth grade Humanities teacher who arranged the event. Mrs. George also had the presenters discuss their career backgrounds. “The students were surprised to hear that Melissa is a lawyer turned historian, mainly because of a year she spent teaching at a prison, where she used history to teach literacy. And they learned how Melissa took every history course she could in high school and turned her passion into a profession.”