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for Social Justice


Michael Goodwin, acclaimed Concord educator and lecturer, sat down with Discover Concord to outline a compelling new course he is teaching on the pivotal year 1836. Having been an educator for more than 20 years, he has seen time and again that the vast majority of students exiting the public school system emerge ill-equipped to fight for social justice. There are many academic courses that offer students a deep knowledge of the history of a place and time but fail to offer the opportunity to translate history into action by involving students in the real-time life of the community. Conversely, many service programs offer participation in community projects, but often without the backdrop of history and context that allow one to truly understand the place and time. Sometimes, the best way forward is to look back and learn. And so, Michael created a course focusing on the pivotal year 1836, to bridge that gap. This timeline to the right shows just how much was brewing in the United States in this pivotal year – and these lessons serve as a fantastic springboard to activate real change in our modern time. Climate change. Systemic racism. Disparity of educational opportunity along socio-economic lines. These are holistic problems that require holistic action. Taking a cue from the change agents of 1836, students will position themselves to intervene in a meaningful way today. As Louis Pasteur once wrote, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” “Upon being steeped in the content,” offers Goodwin, “students will work collaboratively to design a community-based project that aims to create local and national impact. We will not need screens, because 1836 was a time of the content lives and breathes all around us. We will not need a great ferment - here schoolhouse, because the world will be our classroom. We will in Concord, and not need administrators, because we will create a self-sustaining across the country. community of our own; a community without hierarchy in which Ideas were thrown into the cauldron we all have a role to play. All we need is trust in one another, a and revolution willingness to explore the unknown, and the shared purpose of bubbled to the working towards amelioration.” surface. Now, as The course is open to students of all ages - 18 or 81. The more then, we must be diverse the age range, the richer the experience will be for all. The grounded in the only prerequisite is a high school diploma, or equivalent. For more truth and prepare information, or to enroll in the course, please visit for action.

Darwin sets sail on the H.M.S. Beagle, en route to the theory of natural selection. Margaret Fuller graces Bronson Alcott’s Temple School in Boston, MA. Revolution brews in Texas. Thoreau does not attend his graduation from Harvard College. “Let every sheep keep its skin,” he writes, refusing to receive the diploma made of lamb’s flesh. The patent for steam train tires is granted. Maria Mitchell, the grandmother of astronomy, becomes the Head Librarian at the Nantucket Athenaeum. On the run, Frederick Douglass is captured and returned to bondage in Baltimore, MD. An abolition riot breaks out at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Two fugitive enslaved women are freed from the courtroom by spectators. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary is chartered in South Hadley, MA, to become the first women’s liberal arts college in the country.

The whaling vessel Edward Quesnel departs from Fall River, MA, returning with 1,440 barrels of oil.

Courtesy of Madelyn Henry

Michael Goodwin Charts a New Course


Exploring 1836:

Emerson gazes out his window from The Old Manse and pens the essay Nature, launching forth the literary shot heard round the world. “The sun shines today also. Let us demand our own laws, our own work, our own worship.”

Profile for Discover Concord MA

Discover Concord Summer 2021  

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