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Freedom Matters! for Students, Even in Times of Quarantine

Bush Institute's Chris Walsh shares one way to engage kids during COVID-19 that is fun, interesting, and most importantly, educational.

Article by Christopher Walsh April 1, 2020 //   3 minute read

As a newly minted (involuntary) home school parent and a teacher’s spouse, I’m experiencing the challenges of continuing children’s education from our COVID-19 bunker. How do we find ways to engage kids that are fun, interesting, and if we’re being honest, provides us a moment to focus on adulting?

In 2015, the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative released Freedom Matters!, a supplemental curriculum geared towards high school students in global studies and history classes. However, I’ve also used it as a way to discuss history, geography, and civics with my nine, six, and four year olds.

The online content is designed to connect the foundations of freedom to today’s global struggles for liberty. It also includes personal stories of dissidents and democracy advocates featured in the Freedom Collection, YouTube-based video interviews featuring more than 90 individuals from four continents and 23 countries.

Mrs. Laura Bush said of the curriculum, “With solid foundations in civics, students are more likely to be informed, engaged citizens in our country. Our goal with Freedom Matters! is simple: to foster the next generation of Americans to care about democracy and individual liberty at home and abroad.”

Too often we take freedom for granted in the United States (maybe less so now as many of us are sheltering in place), but it’s never guaranteed. Freedom House, an international watchdog, reports that global liberty is mired in a 14-year decline

Let’s also not forget, it wasn’t that long ago in the United States when women were disenfranchised nationally, and the civil rights movement fought against discriminatory laws that reduced minorities to second class citizens. Even today, such struggles continue as marginalized communities seek greater freedoms and protections within our democracy.  

By developing the next generation of civic leaders who care about their own freedom and that of others, we strengthen our ability to protect American liberty and reverse freedom’s retreat internationally.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Cuban dissident like Antunez, a Tunisian activist like Sarah Ben Behia, or a North Korean refugee like Han Nam-su; we all recognize the same basic human rights and share the same aspirations for freedom.