- Study Groups

At the heart of the Seminar are Study Groups, each with a different focus, offering detailed discussion and exploration of a special subject. Each morning, these Study Groups meet individually to discuss a series of topics that are complemented in the afternoons by a plenary program of speakers, workshops, outings and events. Teachers select one Study Group for the duration of the week and participate in every plenary session. For our seminar in Paris, plenary sessions are conducted in English so that they are accessible to all. For an example of day-to-day activities, please see our brochure.

Oxford Teacher Seminar

  • 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 and cosmology, chaos theory, deep sea exploration, nature and the environment, the human brain, and medicine. In their intellectual, cultural, historical, literary, and imaginative contexts, teachers explore the “hard science” of human progress. The boundaries of scientific knowledge provide a wealth of engaging and illuminating ideas for classroom teaching.

  • This Study Group is intended for emerging leaders within schools. Led by an experienced school head, the Group will focus on a selection of key issues that every school leader must face 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 versus extracurricular balance, and relations with the broader community. Alongside this, the Study Group will tackle daily case studies and crisis management scenarios that arise over the course of a school year and collaborate on possible responses.

  • This course focuses on the works of six of the most prominent children’s fantasy authors of the past 150 years. Four of these (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 will cover both a special author whose work will be featured, and an investigative topic designed to focus the discussion around issues relevant to both readers and teachers of fantasy literature. In addition to learning about the history and background of these canonical texts, seminar participants will be encouraged to develop new and imaginative ways of teaching them to students.

  • Focused on the most influential poet and playwright in western civilization, this Study Group examines his works, influence, popularity, and literary legacy. Teachers expand their examination of Shakespeare’s life, contemporary depictions, and immediate reception to include his influences, sources, and collaborators. They also explore how plays have been revised and re-written over the centuries, according to both popular taste and political will, as well as how selected plays have been adapted for television and film, as both specialist performances and Hollywood blockbusters. The Study Group also looks at how Shakespeare can be taught in the classroom through performance.

  • Libraries are at the very heart of every educational institution, from the smallest school to Oxford University itself. Designed for librarians and others 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 libraries that constitute the Oxford University library system. Given the great wealth and antiquity of library resources in Oxford, participants visit medieval libraries that have chained books, see exhibits drawn from rare collections, and visit the Bodleian Library, looking at it not only historically but in relation to a wide range of current issues. Participants meet experts from several fields of library science and archive management.

Cambridge Teacher Seminar

  • How do we excite today’s students about English Literature? With this question in mind, the Study Group reads and discusses selected texts by major writers, exploring key ideas in practical criticism and how these may be presented in classrooms around the world. While considering texts that can stand on their own or be integrated into thematic courses, the group examines canonical writers from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, along with others who have a particular connection to Cambridge (such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Lord Tennyson, Rupert Brooke, and Sylvia Plath). Participants visit sites of special literary interest around Cambridge, including the Orchard in Grantchester and the former colleges of famous writers and poets.

  • This Study Group focuses on the evolution of the library and library science, from issues of library design and the management of specialist collections to the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies and streams of information. Designed for librarians, archivists and others with an interest in the history and role of the library in the academy and broader society, the Study Group takes full advantage of the rich and varied library system of the University of Cambridge, with its 114 constituent bodies. Participants explore several medieval libraries and rare book collections, and confer with experts drawn from different fields of library science and archive management.

  • How can we, as teachers, encourage students to invest time and effort in solving challenging problems in mathematics, and in related subjects like computing, engineering, and science? In this Study Group participants explore the process of solving problems by engaging with key historic issues in mathematics. This twin experience provides the basis for examining the work of famous educators, such as Polya and Lakatos, on the nature of problem-solving in education and research. What does it mean to solve a problem? What makes a mathematical proof watertight? How does mathematical proof contrast with evidence in science or an “engineering solution”? How can crowded contemporary curricula accommodate problem-solving as a core theme? How can teachers nurture confident problem-solving skills in their students? These essential questions and more are explored in depth.

  • Using some of Cambridge’s extraordinary historical resources, this Study Group explores a selection of themes lying at the interstices of history as it is taught in primary and secondary schools, and history as it is researched in universities. Drawing on examples from all periods, sessions address pedagogical questions such as how to incorporate literature, art, and cinema into the syllabus; and how best to convey the value, uses, and abuses of history to the next generation of students. The Study Group also addresses research topics, privileging areas that are all too often excluded from syllabi, such as the long-term influence, on history, of geography, environment, and disease, as well as how the changing nature of war affected the human experience and transformed political institutions.

Paris Teacher Seminar

  • Teachers discuss select issues arising out of French history, culture, national memory, politics and society. The group provides an accessible introduction to Paris as well as a deeper investigation of French life, history, and culture. It is designed for those teachers who wish to enrich their classroom teaching by drawing on this magnificent city’s past and its cultural life today as well as those who seek to improve their familiarity with French society, European cultural life, and the opportunities of studying abroad.

  • Pour ceux qui enseignent la langue et la culture françaises, ce cursus permet non seulement de discuter régulièrement avec d’autres francophones, mais aussi d’approfondir ses connaissances de la France dans ses aspects historiques, culturels, et politiques, tout en explorant des phénomènes de société et de mémoire nationale. Les participants se fondent dans la ville et la vie parisienne grâce à divers colloques, lectures, et visites, et rentrent chez eux avec une expérience et des connaissances considérables qu’ils peuvent partager avec leurs élèves.

Boston Teacher Seminar

  • This ambitious course surveys the moments of fracture and the economic, political, and social successes and cataclysms that have shaped the American nation. Our syllabus ranges from the culture and ultimate dispossession of the earliest Americans to the intrigues of McCarthyism. In between, we examine the impact of the Revolutionary War; the origins and aftermath of the Civil War; the increasing crossover of political and social life in the Constitutional and Federalist eras; and everyday experience under the frost of the Cold War. We also venture into histories less-told, with a thoroughgoing exploration of Black America and shifting race relations, from the origins of slavery through emancipation and the Civil Rights movement. The course also pays attention to American women, and especially the story of suffrage.

  • Whether your passions are for classical, choral, folk, jazz, world, or for other styles besides, Cambridge and Boston are incredible hubs of artistic activity with something for every musician and music teacher. In addition to the renowned Music Department of Harvard itself, participants on this course benefit from close proximity to institutions as diverse as Berklee College of Music, the School of Music at Boston University, the New England Conservatory, and Boston Symphony Hall – home to one of America’s premiere orchestras. Participants share teaching experiences and pedagogical wisdom, and refresh their knowledge of music history and theory through close readings of seminal texts and gritty analyses of the classics.

  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or more commonly, simply STEM. This Study Group investigates convergences between these disciplines through an exploration of cutting-edge research emanating from Harvard, MIT, and industry. Participants enjoy daily laboratory visits with reseachers. Cambridge is the perfect location for participants to dive headlong into the a week of science. Indeed, it was here that William Barton Rogers, founder of MIT, famously nurtured his radical aspiration to bring the sciences together. He sought to create a school that would “cultivate the habits of observation and exact thought, which are so conducive to the progress of invention and the development of intelligent history.” This Study Group seeks to capture the same spirit of curiosity and endeavor.

  • Competition for college places is greater than ever, and demand is growing at an exponential rate. This Study Group prepares teachers, counselors, and advisors to assist students and their families in getting ahead, and in navigating this difficult rite of passage. The Study Group takes a 360-degree view of the college admissions process. Guided by a team of school leaders and experts, participants learn the secrets of the college admissions game. How can we use our writing curricula and programs to grow students capable of writing winning personal statements that are truly personal? How can students practice effectively for interviews without risking the regurgitated answer? And how do college expectations regarding letters of reference, sample pieces of work, and other supporting documents differ from one institution to another? Finally, participants consider how to keep the process fun and help students maintain perspective.

St Andrews Teacher Seminar

  • More students than ever are applying to universities abroad. Today’s college counselor has to be familiar with multiple application systems, as well as trends in university courses and syllabi worldwide. This study group surveys the increasingly global reach of college counseling. Participants discuss college selection processes in various countries; the respective merits of SATs, A-Levels, and the IB; the schisms and similarities between UCAS and the Common Application; the early decision and early action debates; different types of personal statements and essays; and everything in between. Led by an American counselor based in Europe, this course will be augmented by local experts and guest lecturers.

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  • Celtic culture had a profound impact on the development of literature across the British Isles. The Celts’ distinctive influences can be felt in the intricacies of early-Medieval Irish poetry as much as it can in the grit of contemporary Scottish novels. Beginning with seventh-century poems and religious works, this ambitious syllabus stretches as far as Irvine Welsh’s portrayal of drug addiction in late-1980s Edinburgh. In addition to analyzing literary texts in close detail, we use them to discover who the Celts were, and to trace their movements from their origins in pre-Christian Europe to the present day. This involves scrutinizing the development of Celtic folklores, religions, and traditions; the evolutions of separate Celtic cultures in Ireland and Wales; the Celtic Revival in an age of emerging nationalisms; and the place of Celtic culture in the twenty-first century media and popular imagination.

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