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Origins[ edit ] Despite the Supreme Court's ruling of in the Brown v. Board of Education case striking down segregated school systems, in the mids Mississippi still maintained separate and unequal white and "colored" school systems. Even the curriculum was different for white and black.
As a typical example, the white school board of Bolivar County mandated that "Neither foreign languages nor civics shall be taught in Negro schools. Nor shall American history from to be taught. The concept of Freedom Schools had been utilized by educators and activists prior to the summer of in BostonNew York Cityand Prince Edward County, Virginiawhere public schools were closed in reaction to the Brown v.
Board of Education decision or, in the case of Boston, as acts of protest against discriminatory school conditions. Activists made plans to conduct a parallel Democratic primary electionbecause the systematic exclusion of black voters resulted in all-white delegations to presidential primaries.
These efforts culminated in the creation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In Decemberduring planning for the upcoming Freedom Summer project, Charles Cobb proposed a network of "Freedom Schools" that would foster political participation among Mississippi elementary and high school students, in addition to offering academic courses and discussions.
Activists organizing the Freedom Summer project accepted Cobb's proposal and in March organized a curriculum planning conference in New York under the sponsorship of the National Council of Churches. Over the course of Freedom Summer, more than 40 Freedom Schools were set up in black communities throughout Mississippi.
The purpose was to try to end political displacement of African Americans by encouraging students to become active citizens and socially involved within the community. Over 3, African American students attended these schools in the summer of Students ranged in age from small children to the very elderly with the average approximately 15 years old.
Teachers were volunteers, most of whom were college students themselves. Freedom School teachers would educate elementary and high school students to become social change agents that would participate in the ongoing Civil Rights Movement, most often in voter registration efforts.
The curriculum adopted was divided into seven core areas that analyzed the social, political, and economic context of precarious race relations and the Civil Rights Movement. Leadership development was encouraged, in addition to more traditional academic skills.
The education at Freedom Schools was student-centered and culturally relevant. Curriculum and instruction was based on the needs of the students, discussion among students and teachers rather than lecturing was encouraged, and curriculum planners encouraged teachers to base instruction on the experiences of their students.
Curriculum[ edit ] Curriculum development revolved around The Curriculum Conferencewhich consisted of teachers and directors discussing the type of education that would be taught at the freedom schools. The teachers were to write an outline for their curriculum planning. They were told to keep in mind what life was like in Mississippi and the short amount of time that they had to teach the material.
The curriculum had to be teacher-friendly and immediately useful to the students, while being based on questions and activities. The primary focus was questions and discussion rather than memorization of facts and dates.
Instructions to teachers included: In the matter of classroom procedure, questioning is the vital tool.
It is meaningless to flood the student with information he cannot understand; questioning is the path to enlightenment The value of the Freedom Schools will derive mainly from what the teachers are able to elicit from the students in terms of comprehension and expression of their experiences.
The purpose of these sections was to teach students social change within the school; regional history; black history; how to answer open-ended questions; and the development of academic skills. The Academic Curriculum consisted of reading, writing, and verbal activities that were based on the student's own experiences.
The Citizenship Curriculum was to encourage the students to ask questions about the society. The Recreational Curriculum required the student to be physically active.
In most of the schools, the Citizenship Curriculum focused on two sets of inter-related questions for class discussion: Why are we teachers and students in Freedom Schools?
What is the Freedom Movement?
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