Malcolm X Freedom School

“Children are our future, and we must instill good values in them.”

By Gabby Towson

Background Information
Malcolm X is an elementary school in southeast Washington D.C., that has a central mission to “inspire and equip all students to be contributing and productive members of society.” During the summer the learning at the school continues through a program called CDF Freedom School, which is a nationwide program that is run specifically in DC by the Omega Fraternity. The central goal of this Freedom School, and Freedom Schools across the country is to “help children fall in love with reading, increase their self-esteem, and generate more positive attitudes toward learning.” The Omega Freedom School in D.C. helps primarily African-American youth throughout the community and aims to foster the kids love of reading throughout the summer.

Our Experience
At the Omega Freedom School we were given the opportunity to teach Japanese language and song to some of the kids in the program. We quickly learned that teaching was indeed harder than it looked, and that it took great skill to keep everybody in the room engaged. The Americans learned a lot from the Japanese lessons also, and got to learn even more Japanese words that we didn’t know before. The kids were really fun to interact with and as a group we all learned a lot from each other.

After the lessons in Japanese, the kids invited us to join their ‘harambee’ circle, which is something that takes place in Freedom Schools across the country to create community and empower its students. The circle was a really cool experience and all of the kids seemed to love the empowering songs and chants that were repeated throughout the circle. I thought this was a great way to empower younger children and establish a great sense of self confidence at a really young age. We all took a lot away from both the lesson and the harambee circle and were grateful for the experience to interact and meet with these kids.

The Big Idea
From this experience we learned a lot on how important CDF Freedom Schools are, and how important their goals of self-empowerment and widespread literacy are to communities around the country. Our big idea for this experience was that “children are our future,” which CDF Freedom Schools clearly understand because of their strong efforts to help children around the world have a strong love for reading and their education. The other part of our big idea was that as a community “we have to instill good values in these kids” (such as self confidence and determination) at a young age, because it will lead to greater success in the future. We learned through participating in this Freedom School how important it is to establish these good values and how creating a sense of self confidence in these kids leads to them having a better chance at succeeding in their life and future education.