Friday, 12 August 2011

FreedomProject Education: In the Tradition of the Founders

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Freedom Project EducationFreedomProject Education, the educational arm of the American Opinion Foundation, responded to requests by parents and teachers to create a curriculum that provides “a classical education in the tradition of America’s Founders.” On September 6, the FreedomProject will be launching its online curriculum through FreedomProject Education for students in grades 9 through 12.

Alan Scholl, Executive Director of FreedomProject, explains,

Each student will be an educated citizen who is well-prepared to maintain our God-given freedom. Our curriculum will teach students how to reason, discern, and decide. Clearly, this is missing in today’s education efforts as parents and teachers are clamoring for our materials, which they cannot get elsewhere.

According to the FreedomProject Education website, “FPE is the culmination of the principles for which our founding fathers stood, taught and delivered in a cutting-edge online learning environment.”

FPE places an emphasis on critical thinking skills, citizenship, and moral principles for the purposes of molding strong characters in the attending students. The program also seeks to create a curriculum that “recognizes and admires American exceptionalism and underscores the wisdom and foresight of our founding fathers.”

FPE acknowledges the dangers of political correctness in the classroom and refuses to cater to demands for it. Art Thompson, CEO for both the Freedom Project and The John Birch Society, asserts,

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Our classes return to the basics that provided an educational foundation for George Washington and the Founders of our Constitution. Our approach refuses to ignore facts, logic, and common sense, simply to avoid hurting people’s feelings.

With over 100 adjunct faculty members and impressive technology, the program teaches courses in math, science, English, literature, history, philosophy, American studies, economies, logic, humanities, biblical studies, Latin, and Spanish, for $90 per course, though a number of discounts are available. Class instruction for each subject is in the form of written lessons, live chats, video instruction, and assessments.

A press release announcing the program reads:

FreedomProject uses an interactive approach to teaching, providing lessons through Moodle, an online learning management system. A block style learning approach helps students focus on a limited number of subjects. FreedomProject has access to more than 100 adjunct professors with over 1,500 years of combined teaching experience. The curriculum features 32 courses and 10 electives spanning grades 9 through 12.

In addition to Moodle, FPE utilizes smart-pen technology, which “allows teachers to record audio and digital motion, which is then created into a video that students can learn from and visit at anytime.” It creates the illusion that the student and teacher are “in the same room at the same time.”

Likewise, all teachers are equipped with webcams so that they can engage in direct student interaction when necessary.

FreedomProject Education offers three sessions of courses — fall, winter, and spring — which are divided into 12-week blocks. The school year runs from September through May. The program is accessible from any home computer with Internet access, as well as any mobile device.

While the curriculum is currently geared for grades 9 through 12, the creators are already pursuing a curriculum that will provide education for middle-school (grades 6 through 8) and intermediate (grades 4 and 5) students by September 2012.

FreedomProject Education seeks to fill the gaps that have been created by public education. Analysts bemoan the lack of preparation for students who are enroute to college.

In his book The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner records the results of several interviews he conducted and hundreds of classes he observed in some of the best schools in the United States, finding that there continues to be an absence of preparation for employment, as critical thinking skills, creativity,and effective communication are not being taught in America's public schools.

According to Wagner:

Despite the best efforts of educators, our nation’s schools are dangerously obsolete. Instead of teaching students to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers, we are asking them to memorize facts for multiple choice tests. This problem isn’t limited to low-income school districts: even our top schools aren’t teaching or testing the skills that matter most in the global knowledge economy. Our teens leave school equipped to work only in the kinds of jobs that are fast disappearing from the American economy. Meanwhile, young adults in India and China are competing with our students for the most sought-after careers around the world for employment, as critical thinking skills, creativity, and effective communication are not being taught in America’s public schools.

Rather than being equipped with the skills to formulate their own conclusions, or solve a problem that may have multiple solutions, students are taught to regurgitate data that has been drummed into their heads in the public school classroom. They may be able to tell when the Declaration of Independence was signed, for example, but why it was signed or what it meant for the history of the world eludes them. (And judging by students’ scores on civics tests, they may not even know the date for the signing.)

With a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, students are ill-equipped for higher education, forcing college professors to water down their curriculum. And as noted by Wagner, these same students are hard-pressed to find jobs for which they are prepared.

The curriculum of FreedomProject Education places great emphasis on the necessary skills to prepare students for the real world, not simply for assessment testing.

Likewise, as stated by Dr. Duke Pesta, academic director for the FreedomProject, the school encourages patriotism and the idea of American exceptionalism: “We don’t teach from a politically correct perspective — one that handcuffs our ability to understand our rich intellectual heritage as Americans,” he points out.

The “worldview” of the FreedomProject Education is the teaching of truth “based on the foundation of Bliblical belief, and underscoring the Judeo-Christian roots of our nation and our culture.” The website explains:

Our approach takes pride in the achievements of America and the American experiment, and is accurate and unapologetic in teaching America government, history, culture, and heritage. Our science instruction is competitive and creation-based; our economics courses rooted in free-market analyses; and our literature and language courses are taught with regard to historical context — not political correctness — stressing the ways in which language was meant to be enlightening, enriching, instructional, and entertaining.

For these reasons, FreedomProject Education provides a curriculum that is being embraced by homeschooling parents and those who are disenfranchised by the failing public school system.

Registration for the online courses has already begun, so those interested in perusing the online opportunities should visit www.fpeusa.org.