At King Middle School in Portland, eighth-grade students explore the concept of freedom by first looking at Norman Rockwell’s famous illustrations of the four freedoms, printed in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. These images of Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom from Worship were inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union speech in 1941. This learning expedition was first started in 1998 and continues today.
In past years, students examined Rockwell’s images and what they meant in the 1940s. They would then study the concepts and meanings of freedom today through a variety of reading assignments, TED Talks, movies, and research. Students then expressed their personal experiences and reflections on the ideas of freedom through a variety of writing and visual art projects, culminating with Freedom Collages that would be shown in a variety of galleries and public spaces including the Portland Museum of Art.
In past years students created collages based on imagery gathered from a variety of contemporary media and commercial sources. These Freedom Collages are striking commentaries about the nature of freedom in the United States.
This year students and staff have pivoted to a new medium, the podcast. This expedition has always focused on two ideas: student voice, and how our ideas of Freedom has changed over time.