Ticonderoga Rich Strum, Fort Ticonderoga director of education, recently gave a presentation at the October Teachers’ Conference sponsored by the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown.
Strum’s presentation, “The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier,” focused on the American Revolution as it unfolded in northern New York from 1775 to 1777. The session, co-presented with middle school teacher Tim Potts from Robert J. Kaiser Middle School in Monticello, used a series of documents from Fort Ticonderoga’s collection related to the war.
Among the documents examined and analyzed by participating teachers was Benedict Arnold’s “Declaration of Principles.” Written by Arnold at Crown Point in June 1775 and signed by 32 men occupying Fort Ticonderoga and the ruined fort at Crown Point, the document presages many of the sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence 15 months later. Teachers used this document and others in the session to discuss how historical documents can be used with students in the classroom to connect them to real people and real situations connected to our nation’s history.
Artworks were also included in the session. Teachers used the fort’s “The Battle of Saratoga” painting to talk about how history is remembered. The session also discussed the potential pitfalls of using historical paintings as historic resources—especially as many of the paintings depicting historical events used to illustrate history text books have serious flaws—and the importance of teaching students to be careful consumers of history.
This was the fifth time that Strum has presented at the October Teachers’ Conference. He also presents annually at the New York State Conference on the Social Studies held this coming March in Saratoga Springs.
Fort Ticonderoga offers programs and workshops for students and teachers throughout the year. For additional information about available programs, visit www.fort-ticonderoga.org