About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file, "University of Virginia Historic District" (with photographs), and other primary and secondary materials about Thomas Jefferson and the creation of the University of Virginia. Mary Hughes, University Landscape Architect, Office of the Architect, University of Virginia, and Sara Wilson, formerly a research assistant in the Office of the Architect, wrote the lesson. Jean West, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff edited the lesson. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson plan focuses on Thomas Jefferson's belief about the role of education in a democratic society, and the relationship between learning and educational setting. The lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on Thomas Jefferson and his democratic principles or the history of education in America.
Time period: Late 18th and early 19th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To determine how Jefferson's decisions about the physical design of the University of Virginia were expressive of his democratic ideals and hopes for the new nation.
2) To identify how and why Jefferson's curriculum for the University of Virginia differed from the traditional course of study offered in other universities at the time.
3) To examine how the design of local schools reflects its designers' ideas about education.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps of Virginia and the Charlottesville area;
2) three readings about Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia;
3) four drawings of educational settings at Princeton and the University of Virginia;
4) two photographs of the University of Virginia.
Visiting the site
The University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Guided tours of the Rotunda and the Lawn are provided year-round, except during the three-week holiday break in December/January. Tours are free of charge and meet daily at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. at the Rotunda entrance facing the Lawn. For more information, please visit the University of Virginia web pages.