By Anonymous, June 13, 2009 in Pedagogy and Teaching
I am looking for comments and suggestions regarding the use of Madison's Notes in teaching the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. I am putting together a class for junior and senior history majors on Early American History. I plan to use a mixture of primary and secondary sources in the course but I want to focus on primary sources to teach the framing of the Constitution. I have used selections from Madison's Notes before, but have not had much success. Students found the notes hard to understand. This is not surprising given the decline in reading habits of today's students. Previously, I coupled Convention speeches so that students could compare two arguments on a given topic (slavery, representation, etc). I want, however, to have the students to read a selection of speeches that will give them an understanding of how the Convention unfolded. Are there, let's say, eight to ten speeches that could do this?