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Indianapolis Freedom School Project encourages students to value education



Indianapolis, Indiana – The Indianapolis Freedom School Project instills critical thinking in primary school students.

The six-week summer program’s objective is to cultivate in K–8 students a passion for reading and learning so they may positively impact their neighborhoods.

The Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in 1964 served as the foundation for the program’s history. During that time, activists promoted civic engagement, social justice, and literacy while working to register voters.

The IUPUI School of Education CDF Freedom Schools site coordinator, Montayha Adams, claims that the program’s classroom setup is “very different” from that of a conventional school.

“They don’t set up desks. The teacher — the facilitator — is not here to teach them, but to facilitate conversations with our scholars, dismantling the hierarchy of how education is set up.”

For six years, Adams has worked with the program’s participants.

“They are really liberating themselves through these books. I’m a third-grade teacher and a lot of the conversations that we have, you wouldn’t see in schools, and, if we’re going to be quite honest, a lot of these conversations, they are trying to ban in schools.”

After finishing a book, the students engage in five related tasks each day. They work on STEM-related tasks and prioritize creative expression in the afternoon.

“As people who are going to be working in public service or as educators, it is an orientation to what it looks like to do this anti-racist, social justice, critical pedagogical work with students,” Leslie Etienne, director of the IUPUI Africana Studies Program said.