Even though it may be hard to believe, summer is now officially over, which means our fall field trip season is about to begin! The Education Department is excited to welcome 1,000s of students from NYC and around the world out to the Park in order to promote the four freedoms and foster informed civic engagement amongst the next generation.
Franklin Roosevelt believed that the health and survival of American democracy was inextricably linked to the quality of education available to its citizenry. During “American Education Week” in 1938, President Roosevelt released a statement declaring, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education…To prepare each citizen to choose wisely and to enable him to choose freely are paramount functions of the schools in a democracy.” Roosevelt also voiced his approval that one of the themes of that year’s American Education Week was Holding Fast to our Ideals of Freedom, concluding his statement by asserting that “upon the maintenance of those ideals depends all of our happiness.”
We here at Four Freedoms Park share FDR’s beliefs regarding education. Not only in the link between a successful democracy and a well-educated citizenry, but also in his understanding that our national ideals of freedom require persistent maintenance.
That thinking is what guided our efforts as we created two successful field trips for students in grades 2-12 last year (Freedom From Fear and Freedom From Want) as well as our new tour debuting this fall on the intersection of FDR’s four freedoms and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (Freedom of Speech & Worship: First Freedoms). Each of the three tours aligns with city and state learning standards and supplements units already being taught in classrooms. We invite students and teachers to discover the legacy of the four freedoms through an analysis of primary resources and the architecture of our beautiful outdoor space, but we also seek to engage young people in dialogue where they can consider and articulate their own thoughts and opinions about these freedoms as well.
The four freedoms are not static nor free from threats, and it is our sincere hope that students leave the Park feeling empowered to/responsible for promoting their own twenty-first century vision of Roosevelt’s legacy within their individual communities. As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in, the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works…unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
If you are an educator who is interested in bringing your class out to FDR Four Freedoms Park for one of our guided field trips, or you know someone who might be, please feel free to check out our school group’s webpage www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org/learn for more information or to book a tour. You can also send an email to Ryan Lockwood, the Manager of Education for the Park, at Rlockwood@fdrffp.org.
We look forward to seeing you this fall, on a guided field trip or otherwise, as we all work together to maintain and advance the four freedoms.