Four Freedoms Revisited
Constructing Civically Engaged Arguments
Tuesday, March 28
The Philadelphia Writing Project invited 3rd -12th grade teachers and university faculty to explore the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History’s current exhibition The Future Will Follow The Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz. The exhibition explores the transformative changes America has experienced since 2020, addressing antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and more.
This workshop was part of a series of professional development offerings designed by PhilWP teacher consultants, who have been developing curriculum materials and professional development to support civically engaged argument writing in K-12 classrooms. This work is supported by a Teaching with Primary Sources grant from the Library of Congress.
With support from Weitzman museum educator Rebecca Krasner, participants analyzed a portion of the exhibition, which juxtaposes Norman Rockwell’s famous Four Freedoms with other works of art. Together these works ask the viewer to consider who does and does not have access to these freedoms.
Participants then convened for a hands-on workshop introducing texts related to the Four Freedoms that express multiple perspectives, helping students to construct civically engaged arguments. Rebecca and two Philadelphia Writing Project teacher consultants, Javaha Ross and Trey Smith, facilitated engagement with texts related to "Freedom of Worship," "Freedom from Want," and "Freedom of Speech," respectively. Participants constructed a single text by cutting up excerpts from the provided text sets and organizing them around the central text provided by Rockwell. This activity was based on the Weitzman's Open Book curriculum, which itself draws inspiration from traditional Talmudic study. This approach of arranging multiple texts with often dissenting views or multiple perspectives resonates with approaches from the National Writing Project's College, Career, and Community Writers Program.