Frequently Asked Questions
Does Values Through History (VTH) have a POLITICAL affiliation or agenda?
No, Values Through History and its curriculum are not affiliated with any political party and there is no agenda to promote any of them. The word "Values" in the name of the organization refers to the civic and behavioral values without which a democratic republic cannot function, values that the curriculum does teach.
Does Values Through History have a RELIGIOUS affiliation or agenda?
No, Values Through History has no religious affiliation or agenda. The Curriculum does acknowledge the historical fact that 18th Century American colonists were primarily of Christian or Jewish faith, and that religious beliefs were important influences in the lives of most colonists.
What values does the organizational name Values Through History refer to?
The word "Values" in the name of the organization refers to the civic values and governmental principles upon which the United States government was founded. Examples of the civic values examined in the curriculum are the importance of keeping one's word, self-control, honesty, and respectful behavior toward all others. Examples of governmental principles studied are the rights and responsibilities of voting and serving in public office.
Does the Why America Is Free Curriculum teach values? What values? How?
The Curriculum teaches many of the values that comprise good citizenship and underpin the American form of government. Primarily the curriculum is an immersion into 18th century America that teaches the founding events, outstanding people, issues, and civic principles of the United States. Simultaneously the curriculum teaches the students how to use the same scientific approach to principle-based decision-making and structuring a government that the founders of this nation used. The children themselves consistently employ this reasoning technique to discover why certain behaviors, such as stealing, cannot be allowed if a society is to function. When students us this analysis on a range of behaviors, the impact is striking, exciting, and far more lastingly effective than having an adult tell them they should or should not do something. They quickly and profoundly grasp the impact of many behaviors on society, and discover for themselves values that comprise good citizenship.
The curriculum also uses examples from history to examine character traits and behaviors, such as treating others with respect, and the behaviors they find admirable they then find admirable, they then use. Further, the curriculum explores a number of values as they apply to principles of government, such as the duties inherent in the right to vote.
Does the Why America Is Free Curriculum deal with issues of slavery and equality?
Yes, it does address issues of slavery and equality extensively and effectively throughout the curriculum.
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What grade levels is the curriculum designed to serve?
The curriculum is designed for upper elementary school, meeting or exceeding the standards of learning at the 4th and 5th grade levels. It can be used with adaptations below and above this grade level, and a group of principals who reviewed the curriculum concluded that high school students would benefit greatly from much of it.
Why is the Why America Is Free Curriculum designed for 4th and 5th Grades?
It was designed for 4th and 5th grade for many reasons. As a threshold matter, most states teach the American Revolution and the founding of the nation for the first time in one of these two grades. The mental development of most 4th and 5th graders is perfectly suited to the curriculum in two ways. Since the curriculum immerses the students into the world of the American Revolution, the grades are a perfect setting because these students are still young enough to imagine powerfully and role-play unselfconsciously as they study, see the world through the lenses of the 18th century, and eventually "live" the lives of Patriot children in the midst of the revolution. At the same time, they are also old enough intellectually. By these grades, most students can grasp many abstract concepts, analyze rationally, apply concepts to situations, and make connections. Beyond the deterring fact that few older students can still imagine and role-play as well a 9, 10, and 11 year olds, there is also one great logistical advantage to using it in elementary school in most school systems. The curriculum is integrated across all subjects, and the tight coordination between lessons in different subjects is easiest and most effective when all classes in the grade are involved. This coordination of lessons is much easier to achieve in elementary school than in higher grades.
What kinds of schools use the Why America Is Free Curriculum?
To date, 40% are private or parochial, and 60% are public (Title 1, International Baccalaureate, community, charter, consolidated).
Where are the schools that have the Curriculum located?
There are schools in 15 states that have the Curriculum: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington.
Can you give an example of the way in which lessons in different
subjects reinforce each other?
A detailed example is set out subject-by-subject on the Curriculum page of this website. To see it, click on Why America Is Free Curriculum. Scroll down and begin where the Example of Meaningful Integration begins.
What does a school receive in one set of the Why America Is Free Curriculum
To see a list of all a school receives, click on Curriculum Materials in the drop-down menu under the Why America Is Free Curriculum.
How much does the Curriculum cost?
The curriculum materials and the license to use the materials in a school is a one-time expense. Presently the cost is $4,350 plus shipping (shipping within the contiguous United States averages around $200). Since there are no yearly fees to use the curriculum, the overall per-student cost goes down every year of use. This price is extraordinarily low because VTH and the textbook publishers are both nonprofits dedicated to making the curriculum available at the lowest price.
If a school has self-contained classrooms or more than one teacher who may be teaching some or all of the subjects, does the school have to have several sets?
No, it is extremely unlikely that that would ever be necessary. The subjects that may need extra materials are only in the core subjects where more than one teacher may be teaching an academic discipline. Extras of the core subject materials cost less than you may expect. Because VTH is a non-profit organization trying to keep costs to schools as low as possible, the modest overhead costs are taken from the sale of the complete set. If a school that licenses the basic curriculum set also needs extras of specific items, (for instance, extras of some or all of the core subject cases and materials - Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, and Science), those will be provided to the school at a reduced price that covers raw costs only.
If the school needs more than the 52 textbooks that come with the set, can they
get them and if so, how much do they cost?
Yes, any school that has the curriculum can obtain additional books by the case. Each case has 26 books. Currently one case of books costs $254 plus an average of $21 for shipping.
How long does the curriculum take to complete?
The curriculum is very adaptable, allowing schools almost an infinite range of choices. It is designed for six weeks. Some schools have shortened it slightly the first year. Once the teachers see its great impact, ease of implementation, effectiveness and the fact that it does NOT slow them down at all in Math, Science, Language Arts, PE, Art, or Music, most schools have expanded it to at least six weeks the following year. Private schools typically allow 9-14 weeks (some even longer) because it is so content rich and beneficial.
Does the Why America Is Free Curriculum provide textbooks in every subject?
No. In Social Studies the Curriculum includes a textbook that covers just this period in American history. In all other subjects, the Curriculum works with the normal classroom texts and materials. The teacher will teach the skills and knowledge as she always has, and the Curriculum simply provides historical context through stories that fascinate students and applications for the skills and knowledge being taught. These applications connect with, reinforce, and illuminate new aspects of what is being taught in Social Studies and other subjects. Therefore the teachers can progress through the teaching of all skills and knowledge in these subjects at their normal pace and in their customary order.
What period of history does the curriculum cover?
In Social Studies, the Curriculum begins with the French and Indian War and ends before the War of 1812 begins. Certain activities begun during the Curriculum are designed to be continued throughout the remainder of the school year.
How is the teacher training handled?
With the Curriculum, VTH supplies a detailed script for a complete training workshop, as well as subject-specific reviews in audio and video formats. With these training materials, each school has everything needed to train all grade-level teachers and volunteers without outside presenters. Soon an on-demand, segmented training series will also be available online.
Is it possible to have a live training seminar run by Values Through History?
Though they have what they need for training, many schools prefer to have an outside trainer, especially the first year. If a school or district wishes to have a one or two day live training seminar for all of the teachers, administrators, and any volunteers who will be using the curriculum, VTH staff will be pleased to work with them, and if possible schedule a live workshop. The live workshop provides a way to launch the curriculum in a school or group of schools that generates tremendous knowledge, confidence,and excitement among the teachers and volunteers, answers everyone's questions, and allays any misgiving that something new can cause.
NOTE: As soon as possible, an interactive, segmented, on-demand version of the workshop will replace and be available to schools that have the Why America Is Free Curriculum, so that all involved can be trained and refreshed when and where works best for them. Elements of the training series that will feature historical character actors and historical settings will do double duty in the classroom.
If a school begins the curriculum and questions arise, how do they get help?
Any school using the curriculum will be able to call or email Values Through History for prompt answers to questions. Also, a number of teachers, principals, and volunteers who have used the curriculum have said that they will be pleased to talk to other teachers, principals, school system administrators or volunteers if needed. Additionally, as soon as the streaming, on-demand training series is completed, it will be indexed so that finding many answers within it will be efficient.
Is there an Internet based version of the WAIF Curriculum for schools that are no longer using books, CDs, and DVDs?
An Internet based version is not yet available, but soon most print, audio, and video elements will be accessible online to schools that have the Curriculum. Some elements, however, are and must remain physical (ex: mastodon skeleton and various teaching objects).
How does the Curriculum deal with the issues of enslavement, treatment of Native Americans, women, Loyalists, and children?
The study covered by the Why America Is Free Curriculum is the American Revolution and Founding Period. In the logical topical and historic sequence that almost every school follows in Social Studies, before the WAIF curriculum begins, students cover units that progress from Native Americans of North America, through Early Explorers, Colonization, Early Colonies (includes Conflicts with Native Americans), and then an extensive unit on Slavery in the American Colonies. Because the students already have that knowledge base when the Why America Is Free Curriculum begins, slavery and Native Americans during the American Revolution are not isolated in the study. The impact of the war, founding documents, and early laws on Native Americans, the enslaved, freedmen, as well as the impact that these minority groups had on the war, on society, and on the founding documents are included as integral parts of the complex story. In addition, the perspectives and contributions of Loyalists, British, French, Spanish, women, and children are all woven in. This multi-perspective approach is accomplished through lessons and activities not only in Social Studies but also in other subjects.
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