The Roger H. Garrison Connection

David Gottshall writes...

"In 1969, after several years of experimentation in New York State and elsewhere, Roger Garrison founded a seminar which he called the "National Seminar for Great Teachers" on his home campus in Maine.  I had the good fortune of being involved in that excitingly different departure from traditional teacher training (see reproduction of AAJC Journal cover, at right).  I was so excited about the potential of his ideas that, with the support of my home college (College of DuPage in Illinois) and with the encouragement of Roger Garrison, I founded the Illinois Great Teachers Seminar the very next year.  Roger and I became close friends and collaborators in many staff development projects, and I served annually on the staff of his National Seminar for Master Teachers until his death and many years beyond.

After Roger's first successful seminar in 1969, the American Association of Junior Colleges (later renamed "American Association of Community and Junior Colleges now the "American Association of Community Colleges") who had funded it, determined that it did not need further funding.  Garrison continued to offer it on a cost-recovery basis.   Although Roger never discussed his choice or 'later' rejection of the term "Great Teachers", he decided to rename his annual event the "National Seminar for Master Teachers" from the third year onward.  He suggested that I keep the name "Great Teachers", since I preferred it, and because that would help to distinguish between two separate events that were somewhat alike in spirit and philosophy but which had become clearly different in style and method.

Within a few years, the Illinois Great Teachers Seminar became a national event, and I renamed it the National Great Teachers Seminar.  From that point on to the present, there have been two important annual events each summer: Roger Garrison's National Seminar for Master Teachers in Portland, Maine (Greenfield, Mass. after his death) and my National Great Teachers Seminar in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (formerly the Illinois Great Teachers Seminar), the latter being the origin of the Great Teachers Movement as we know it today.   All existing Great Teachers Seminars and variations thereof developed and continue to develop directly or indirectly from that seminar in Wisconsin."

Reproduction of AAJC Journal cover