The USS Midway Museum’s Institute for Teachers was hard-hit by the COVID virus and compelled to cancel all in-person programs for 2020 and 2021. But teachers still needed professional development about the Cold War, Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II in the Pacific, so institute staff quickly reoriented programs to an entirely online format for 2021. It was a resounding success.

Seminars were created that were specific to topics that teachers told us had considerable current interest. The leadoff seminar on June 29-July 1 was “Legacy of Protest,” an analysis of the 1960s and 1970s civil rights and anti-war protests, and their contemporary effects. That was followed on July 6-8 with “The Last Years of the War in Vietnam and its Aftermath,” a topic of great interest with the concurrent withdrawal of the United States forces from Afghanistan.

On July 13-15, “The Global Cold War and its Impact in Developing Countries,” focused on the Cold War in Latin America, Asia and Africa. This was especially welcomed by world history teachers who wanted to know more about the Cold War outside of Europe and the United States.

Next was “The Visual Culture of the Cold War” on July 20-21, which presented a fascinating and sometimes comic array of images showing how culture changed during the Cold War as seen in media from cartoons to posters and propaganda. At the same time, from July 19-22, the institute co-sponsored a Vietnam War seminar with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute from New York.

The summer offerings concluded with two single-day programs. “Understanding North Korea” was presented on July 27 to help teachers understand the origins and current policies of North Korea, and on July 28, “World War II and the Rise of the Aircraft Carrier” outlined how the aircraft carrier became the predominant warship of the U.S. Navy.

Most seminars included a remarkable video tour of the Midway flight deck with commentary by former naval aviators. Resources were provided for continuing use by teachers in the classroom. All seminars were provided at no cost to teachers and encouraged teacher participation and interactivity. Several teachers also participated in writing lesson plans to be shared on the Institute’s web page.

More than 130 teachers attended the seminars from 40 states plus American Samoa, Guam, Canada, and Vietnam. Most importantly, 122 of them joined our ongoing professional learning community to stay connected with Midway.

One teacher summed up the experience saying it was the “the best professional development for world history ever. Great professors. Great interaction.”

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