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The Success of Hillsdale’s “1776 Curriculum”

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2024
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AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis

Hillsdale College

Since its unveiling in 2021, Hillsdale College’s “1776 Curriculum,” has significantly influenced curriculum in a growing number of states and is helping break the left’s ideological stranglehold on the education system.

The Ashley River Classical Academy, a K-12 charter school that will open in Charleston, South Carolina this August, is just one example of the impact of Hillsdale’s curriculum and commitment to reforming American education. The school will be committed to a “classical American education” that prioritizes traditional instruction in core subjects like science, math, and history.

Ashley River is just one of the dozens of charter schools that Hillsdale is looking to plant around the country – all of which can use, particularly in history and government, the 1776 Curriculum as a resource. Tennessee has invited Hillsdale to build up to 50 such schools in the Volunteer State if they see the demand through parents and individual communities.

Republican leaders in other states have also turned to academics who contributed to the 1776 Curriculum to help reform their own education standards. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asked Hillsdale professors to review his state’s history curriculum, while South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem introduced new history standards that borrowed heavily from Hillsdale’s 1776 Curriculum back in 2022.

Left-wing opponents of the curriculum have predictably smeared it as “racist” and accused its proponents of ignoring ugly truths about American history like slavery and segregation.

In truth, however, the 1776 Curriculum, which spans some 2,400 pages and includes extensive lesson plans for K-12 students, mentions slavery some 3,000 times, along with other detailed discussions of instances where the United States did not live up to its founding promise.

The curriculum’s critics seem most upset at the fact that it breaks with the education establishment’s obsession with race, class, and gender – what can be called the “holy trinity” of the modern education system.

Instead, the 1776 Curriculum focuses on the ideological roots of the American Revolution and the ideas and principles of the American Founders as they understood themselves, along with primary-source documents telling the story of American history. Some of the topics covered in-depth in the curriculum include Roger Williams’s efforts to establish religious tolerance in Rhode Island, Paul Revere’s ride, what it was like to be an African slave during the Middle Passage to the New World, and the Great Awakening in the American colonies.

More than just a historical study, however, the 1776 Curriculum attempts to provide a concrete sense of identity for American students – something that is missing in the lessons taught in many schools today. Upon release of the curriculum, Hillsdale President Larry P. Arnn noted that the struggles Americans face today with their sense of national identity are similar to the ones experienced by Americans at the founding. “The founding controversy affected all Americans’ understanding of who they were,” he said.

The 1776 Curriculum also offers explicit rebuttals to revisionist history like the notion that the founders were only interested in preserving the institution of slavery or expanding their own personal wealth. It affirms that the colonists “desired freedom to better their conditions” since “the degree of opportunity not seen in Europe for the ordinary person was unprecedented.”

The curriculum also explains the history of the abolition movement and how practices like slavery have shaped American history. Above all, it is a celebration of the idea of America and all the progress that has been made toward realizing the country’s founding promise.

“The pursuit of truth is an unapologetic pursuit. For those who strive for honesty, it cannot be otherwise,” said Dr. Kathleen O’Toole, who led the project.

Ultimately, the truth that shines through in the 1776 Curriculum is one that British historian Paul Johnson revealed to me in an interview just one month after the 9/11 attacks: “The foundation of the United States, being the greatest of all human adventures, holds tremendous lessons for the American people and the rest of mankind.”

Three of those lessons, Johnson said, are as follows: “that the nation could atone for past injustices by creating a society dedicated to justice and fairness; that the founders successfully balanced idealistic altruism with ambition, forging a new nation; and that Americans raised a ‘Shining City Upon a Hill,’ which, despite censors and other hostile efforts, is admired by millions worldwide.”

The Hillsdale curriculum underscores this view, and, as Dr. Arnn stressed, it is “an invitation to students, parents, and schools to educate the next generations in liberty.”

With a critical round of elections this coming November, Americans should choose more leaders who will accept this invitation and decisively turn the tide against the forces of indoctrination and falsehood in American education.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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Donna
Donna
4 months ago

The 1776 curriculum will be the key to open the rusty, corroded iron door of the public indoctrination centers and allow sunlight , fresh air and truth to enter once again. God bless Hillsdale.

Carol
Carol
4 months ago

Anyone or group that doesn’t serve the Marxist masters on the left are considered “dangerous” and “racist” by those masters. These Leftist HATE TRUTH! They despise God and Freedom and don’t want anyone teaching our youth that opportunities await them, they don’t have to be victims, and they can be FREE! Truly educated, prosperous, and free people are what the Left is afraid of!

Keith
Keith
4 months ago

Thank you Hillsdale College. A small bright beacon of light in a vast ocean of brainwashed Marxists put out by most colleges across our great nation. Hillsdale is doing fantastic work and takes zero dollars in federal aid. They are dependent on folks like us to support them. I have done so for many years. To see this project launch is a dream come true. I highly recommend that readers donate to them so they can continue to teach and spread truth in our wounded country. Please help them if you can, your donations will make this country a better place for your children and grandchildren by reviving the American Dream.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
4 months ago

Very uplifting, good article, something to feel optimistic about. What Dr Kathleen O’ Toole said about the pursuit of truth and what Governor Kristi Noem did with South Dakota history standards – influenced by the Hillsdale Curriculum – Paul Revere and others like him are probably feeling very good about – in that place beyond this life , that place where true patriots go to mark their achievements by those who value history. Governor DeSantis is doing right with his consultation with Hillsdale about the program for Florida and Dr. Arn expressing respect for liberty in education – very encouraging and admirable , this article promotes a sense of Honor , Ben – Well Done with this writing . I do believe the idea ,the spirit of the last sentence in the Declaration of Independence would be appropriate to think about more often by those in the education field. ” And in support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes , our sacred Honor .”

Pat R
Pat R
4 months ago

I’ve taken some of Hillsdale’s free online courses and plan to do more this spring. They are a true ‘beacon on a hill’ for those who seek truth in knowledge of our history.

Donna
Donna
4 months ago

Well if it isn’t the troll of many names, returning with yet another identity.

Cliff
Cliff
4 months ago

You should do better investigating. HC is one of the few Colleges not indoctrinated by the left.

David Millikan
David Millikan
4 months ago

Hillsdale College has done an excellent job and I commend them.

Bob???
Bob???
4 months ago

Hate??? How could anyone consider Hillsdale’s message as hate? Unless you are NOT a patriot. Even if someone has a different view they should be interested in why that person has the view that they do. I think Hillsdale is doing a fantastic job. I would like to hear in detail why someone would view it as hate? Just curious. I welcome a response.

Tim Curtis
Tim Curtis
4 months ago

Is it curriculum for homeschooling?

Louis
Louis
4 months ago

George U should be shut down for spreading hate …. Oh wait , that’s free speech. Just what Hillsdale College is in favor of.

Rik
Rik
4 months ago

Hillsdale doesn’t accept Jackasses like you

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