Amid heightened national attention to the quality of education, two Harvard professors ran special summer seminars over recent weeks as part of a new federal program for re-educating high school teachers in the humanities.
And next year the seminar program will be expanding from 15 to 52 seminars nationwide as a result of a $50,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation and additional federal funds. Ronald Herzman, program coordinator, said recently.
In the past, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)--which ran the seminar program--has sponsored summer study in the humanities on college campuses throughout the country for college professors.
But this year, the federally funded agency decided to focus more attention on secondary school teachers, who often do not get an opportunity to study any one specific field in depth after they become educators, Herzman said.
As a result, the Endowment initiated its seminar programs for high school teachers on 15 college campuses including Harvard. Which for the past 10 years has a participated in the program aimed at college professors who do not have access to graduate studies in their special fields.
Of the 225 high school teachers who attended seminars this summer, 35 of them studied at Harvard under Professor of American and English Literature Helen H. Vendler, who taught a group on lyrie poetry, and Professor of Government, Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., who led a seminar entitled "The American Experiment."
Vendler and Mansfield--who were able to select the participants in their respective seminars--themselves had to apply to the program. In turn, the Endowment paid Harvard enough money to cover the professors' summer salaries and to compensate for the use of University facilities.
The teachers attending the seminars received $1550 stipends for four-week seminars, $1840 for five weeks and $2125 for six weeks. Those sums should increase next year because of the Mellon grant, Herzman said.
More than 330 high school teachers applied for the 15 slots in the poetry seminar, Vendler said, adding that the final group of teachers was both diverse and highly dedicated to the study of lyric poetry.
Vendler, who in the part taught several seminars for college professors, said leading the group of high school teachers was special because these teachers do not have the opportunity to take sabbaticals or other time off to pursue their interests in depth. High school teachers "are a totally neglected population." she added.
Humanities teachers in the seventh through 12th grades at public, private and parochial schools were eligible to apply for the seminars.