The Tanner Humanities Center’s Educational Enrichment programs provide opportunities for teachers and faculty to pursue academic development outside of the typical workplace. The Gateway to Learning Educator Workshops and Professors Off Campus are two of the highlights of the educational enrichment programming.
Gateway to Learning
The Gateway to Learning Educator Workshops began in 1990 as a pathway for K-12 Utah teachers to participate in intensive continuing education courses at the University of Utah. Every summer, University of Utah faculty and staff provide all-day workshops from Monday to Friday highlighting methods of professional development, pedogeological methods, and community building. These workshops reach 150 to 200 teachers and impact over 5,000 every summer to help prepare them to meet state and federal educational mandates.
Since 1990, the Tanner Humanities Center has offered over 129 Gateway to Learning Educator Workshops. Workshops span a variety of historical and cultural topics and adjust each year to respond to the needs of Utah’s teachers and their evolving classrooms. The complete list of courses is extensive, but topics have included Utah History; The American Revolution; Utah’s Refugee Communities; Immigration & Education; The Vietnam War; Cold War; Ancient and Contemporary Chinese Civilization; The Native Peoples of Utah; The Environment in Film; Children’s Literature; Stegner, the West, & American Literature; Women’s Suffrage; Contemporary World Literature, among others.
In Fall of 2022 the Gateway to Learning Educator Workshop was “Native American Poetry, An Introduction: Joy Harjo and her Living Nations, Living Words Project.” This workshop featured three University of Utah professors and provided historical context and cultural background to aid in the teaching of Native American studies in the classroom.
In 2019 as part of the Tanner Humanities Center’s commitment to providing opportunities for educational programming on inclusive and challenging instruction for teachers, the center hosted the NEH program Manifest Destiny Reconsidered: The Utah Experience. This program took place over two separate weeks and sought to improve teacher and student understanding of Western expansion and challenge a persisting historical perspective of colonization. Bob Goldberg, Professor of History and former Director of the Tanner Humanities Center, and Paul Reeve, Simmons Professor of Mormon Studies, Department of History, taught sixty-nine teachers over these two weeks from across the nation. Following a chronological history, they investigated ideas of race, gender, and class in the creation of the American West while reflecting on the ways that these concepts are reflected in modern society.
All too often, discourse around race, sexuality, social-emotional learning, and even historical events such as the Holocaust or slavery can be fraught in our politically divided climate. This can be doubly true in the classroom when discussing challenging topics with students. And yet, an important goal of a well-rounded education is to help students explore complex subjects and learn the value of nuanced, civil discussion. Books have always been a wonderful resource for helping students consider challenging topics, gain empathy, and “travel” across time and space to learn about our complicated past and present. The Gateway to Learning workshops were an incredible experience to learn from experts in Education, English, and librarianship how to use literature to teach challenging subjects in a 21st century classroom with confidence and compassion and to think about books as both windows into the broader world and mirrors to make sense of our personal experience.
- Rebekah Cummings, Digital Matters Interim Director, University of Utah, Utah State Library Board, Chair, Utah Library Association, Advocacy Committee, Co-Chair