Oxford Teacher Seminar

July 24-July 31, 2018

The Oxford Teacher Seminar is held in Worcester College in the University of Oxford. Participants have the unique opportunity to share in the academic and cultural traditions of this famous institution. Teachers meet Rhodes Scholars; visit colleges, libraries, and historic sites; and gain an insider’s feeling for the deeper resources behind the beauty and tradition of “the city of dreaming spires.”

The Residence

The town of Oxford has hosted a scholarly community for over 900 years, and it continues to be one of the world's most important intellectual and cultural centers today. Our Teacher Seminar is housed in the beautiful, peaceful setting of Worcester College. Here participants are nearby The Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers, and Natural Science Museums, Oxford University Press, and several historic pubs and cafes. The Bodleian Library is within easy walking distance, as is the commercial bustle of Broad and High Streets. The site of Worcester College has been used for academic purposes since the thirteenth century. It was originally known as Gloucester College. Gloucester was founded in 1283 for the education of Benedictine monks, and it closed during the Dissolution in 1539. For a brief period afterward, it was known as Greek College - following Benjamin Woodruff's effort to transform it into a home for Greek Orthodox students. Only in 1714 was it re-endowed by Sir Thomas Cookes as Worcester College. In addition to twenty-six acres of land, Worcester is known for buildings designed by renowned 18th- and 19th-century architects, including Henry Keene, Nicholas Hawksmoor, and James Wyatt. These stand alongside substantial medieval remnants of Gloucester College that are still in use today. Worcester boasts many notable alumni, among them Rupert Murdoch and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Teacher Seminar participants live in comfortable rooms in the College. The rooms are all en-suite and there is Wi-Fi. Meals are taken in the College dining hall and the food is widely considered among the best in Oxford. Breakfast is primarily continental, while a variety of entrée options are available at dinner, including vegetarian dishes.

The Director

Formerly a departmental Lecturer in English at the University of Oxford, Dr. Kerr is currently on the faculty at Southampton University. He is completing a book about the sea in 19th-century literature. His research interests include the Victorian novel - especially the works of Dickens, Conrad, and Frederick Marryat - and the history of emotions. He has taught and lectured on a wide range of subjects, including film adaptation and Victorian children’s literature. He completed his doctorate in English Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, where he was a Clarendon Scholar. Prior to taking up his Lectureship he taught at a number of Oxford colleges, including Magdalen, Keble, and Christ Church, and at the University of Lincoln.

Boundaries of Scientific Knowledge

Oxford has been at the forefront of intellectual discovery for hundreds of years and this group explores how cutting-edge areas of scientific research can be innovatively integrated into classroom teaching at the secondary level, in the arts and humanities as well as the sciences. Teachers engage with key topics, including astrophysics, chaos theory, deep sea exploration, environmental science, and medicine. This course provides a wealth of engaging and illuminating ideas for classroom teaching.

Leadership Challenges in Contemporary Education

This Study Group is intended for emerging school leaders. Guided by an experienced school head, the Group focuses on a selection of issues facing school leaders today, such as curriculum reform, the uses and abuses of technology, the pros and cons of parental engagement, faculty retention and development, socioeconomic inequality, academic-extracurricular balance, and relations with the broader community. The Study Group also tackles daily case studies and crisis-management scenarios that arise over the course of an academic year.

Literature and the Fantastic

This course focuses on the works of six of the most prominent children’s fantasy authors of the past 150 years. Four of them (Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Philip Pullman) were or are Oxford-based. Particular attention will be paid to their biographies and their interactions with the University and Oxford town life. Each seminar covers both a select author and an investigative topic designed to focus the discussion around issues relevant to readers and teachers of fantasy literature. In addition to learning about the history and background of these canonical texts, participants will be encouraged to develop new and imaginative ways of teaching their students.

Shakespeare in History

This Study Group examines the works, influence, popularity, and literary legacy of the most influential poet and playwright in western civilization. Teachers expand their examination of Shakespeare’s life to include his influences, sources, and collaborators. They also explore how the plays have been revised and rewritten over the centuries, according to both popular taste and political will; and how selected plays have been adapted for television and film.

The Library and The Academy

Libraries are at the very heart of every educational institution, from the smallest school to the University of Oxford itself. Designed for librarians and those with an interest in how libraries contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of the academy, this Study Group draws on select resources from more than 60 institutions that constitute Oxford’s library system. Participants visit medieval libraries that have chained books, see exhibits drawn from rare collections, and visit the Bodleian, looking at it not only historically but in relation to a wide range of current issues.