At a Glance

  • How can you encourage teachers to view monuments and memorials as primary and secondary sources, ripe for analysis? Historians Christopher Hamner and Michael O'Malley introduced Teaching American History (TAH) grant project teachers to the George Mason Memorial in Washington, DC.

Visiting the George Mason Memorial

Establishing the Theme

Video Transcription

  • George Mason Memorial

  • 1:16
  • Christopher Hamner: We had, I thought, the beginning of a very good conversation there with the teachers about choices. It could have been a different pose, it could have been different books. The quotes had obviously been selected very carefully that flank his statue. Michael O’Malley: You can problematize it really easily, you know, and it's so situated in this specific politics, so I thought that worked well. Christopher Hamner: And just kind of getting them open to this idea of monuments as texts, as sources, as something that you can ask questions about and you can approach it not just—this is not just or even foremost a monument to George Mason, the 18th-century Virginia thinker, but also to the moment in time in which the statue and the monument was designed, commissioned, erected, and opened. I thought that was also a great place to start because it kind of jolted them out of the tourist mode and into— Michael O’Malley: Into the inquirer mode. Cause you’re not at the—there’s the thing everybody is looking at, Jefferson. Instead you’re looking at this odd guy on this bench. So I would probably use that again. I thought that worked pretty well.