AdamSmithWorks Teaching Resources


The World Is Your Oyster...Adam Smith on Travel

Historian Leo Damrosch gives a marvelous account of a visit to the Highlands and Hebrides by two good friends of Adam Smith. The travelers, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, were curious about what life was like in northern Celtic Scotland as compared to the cosmopolitan cities of Edinburgh and London. Each traveler wrote a book about their adventure.

In Boswell’s Journal of a Tour, he commented on the velocity and freedom of traveling in a post-chaise (a mini horse-drawn carriage with a collapsible roof), both parties adorned in traveling dress. The pair were hosted in northern castles but also subjected to the rugged rural north. Inns were rare in the Isle of Skye where the pair accepted the hospitality of random farmers who offered their primitive accommodations in return for schillings.  The duo likely ate meals of scotch pie, turnips, and herring (see recipes below!). Johnson described having a taste of whiskey which was unfamiliar in London. 

The trip lasted for 101 days and left each man with memories of their deepened friendship and many ideas that the world of travel opens up. In Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, he ponders the mountain people and their long history of resisting outside control. He wrote, “I got an acquisition of more ideas by it than by anything that I remember. I saw quite a different system of life.”

Adam Smith was also influenced by travel. He once went from Britain to mainland Europe while tutoring and chaperoning a young Duke on a "Grand Tour" of France and Switzerland. Adam Smith was greeted with celebrity status and circulated among the homes and salons of Enlightenment thinkers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet). In Paris, the duo stayed for a while in the Hotel du Parc Royale, in luxurious accommodations, unlike anything a young Adam Smith of Kircaldy Scotland would imagine. 

As the school year draws to an end and pandemic interruptions are waning, many eager travelers are booking trips to visit relatives, explore new places, or take a break between studies.

Has travel enriched your life?

What do you think about the value of travel in the educational development of young people?

We hope you enjoy the collection, and as always, would love to hear your feedback. 

The AdamSmithWorks Team 

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What Adam Smith (& Friends) Ate
Summer is a great time to try some new recipes! And what better recipes to try than these inspired by Adam Smith?


Summer Reading Suggestions


Lesson Planning

For Inspiration

Make Original Sources Work for You
The AdamSmithWorks reading guides use three types of questions based on the Great Books Shared Inquiry Handbook to help teachers and students. 

This excerpt with embedded questions is from Wealth of Nations, Book 5, Chapter 1, "Of the Expences of the Sovereign or Commonwealth." 
Sample questions from this section include:
  • What institutional incentives does Smith believe are responsible for the ineffective teaching performed by professors including those from his alma mater, Oxford University?
  • What constitutes in ideal university curriculum for Smith?  How does this compare to the typical courses of study of today? What advantages and disadvantages accompany Smith's desired approach, and how efficacious do you think this would be for students today?
  • What do you think "public education" meant for Smith, and how does this compare to the notion of public education today?


June Virtual Reading Group: Liberty, Equality, Jane Eyre, and Adam Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric

The 1847 novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is inspiring a new generation of literary scholars to re-examine this bildungsroman and its messages of self-awareness, liberty, and equality. In this reading of Jane Eyre, we explore the literary classic in tandem with Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. As we see Jane through Smith’s lens of emotion, grief, passion, and loss, we glimpse a woman struggling to find independence amid the array of moral dilemmas she faces including corruption, forbidden marriage, and piety. All anchored by an important cornerstone – love. 

Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric followed publication of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and were delivered nearly a century before Jane Eyre was published. They were released in 1958 after a scholar found a cache of Smith’s lectures from the University of Glasgow on literature and argument. While Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric is nominally about writing style, it reveals his early thoughts on morality, virtue, and human behavior.  

This year is the 175th anniversary of Jane Eyre. Join us for this online discussion over 4 sessions as we explore these literary classics with new eyes.

Pre-registration is required. 

Learn more and register:
Liberty, Equality, Jane Eyre, and Adam Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric | Adam Smith Works
Are YOU interested in submitting a Lesson Plan for possible publication? Contact us at

If you missed our collection of Online Teaching Tips, you can find them and more in our TEACH collection. We've added several new Lesson Plans for middle grades and up.

Our Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments Guides are available.

Also, see our #WealthOfTweets for a fun, social media savvy approach to the Wealth of Nations.

AND don't forget our video series, with classroom conversation starters, "An Animal That Trades. Part 4, Sympathy" is particularly relevant to this collection.
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