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Indianapolis Freedom School Project inspires students to love learning

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Freedom School Project teaches elementary students to think critically. 

The goal of the six-week summer program is to inspire a love of reading and learning in children in grades K-8 so they can make a difference in their communities.

The history of the program dates back to the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in 1964. That’s when activists worked to register voters while promoting literacy, social justice, and civic engagement.

Montayha Adams, the site coordinator at the IUPUI School of Education CDF Freedom Schools site, says the way the program sets up classrooms is “very different” from a traditional 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.”

Adams has been working with students in the program for six years.

“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.”

Each day after reading a book, the scholars complete five activities that tie into what they read. In the afternoon they work on STEM projects and focus on expressing themselves through the arts. 

“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, told News 8.

Visit the Indianapolis Freedom School program website to learn more.