Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Darwish and A Thought

Last night our high schools attended a lecture at the University of Memphis by Arab pro-Israel lecturer and author, Nonie Darwish. Our kids, who came with notebooks in hand and an assignment to keep them focused, were clearly enriched by the experience.

The event got me thinking about a different set of challenges as well - ones that I have spent quite some time thinking, researching, writing, and speaking about over the last few years. That is, the issue of preparing Orthodox students to meet the challenges of secular university campus. It dawned on me last night that perhaps what we were doing - bringing our high schools to attend a university lecture - could be part of an effective approach to preparing our kids for the intellectual challenges of university life.

The idea is as follows: instead of having our own high school teachers try and give our 11th and 12th graders a taste of the challenges which await them on campus - as many schools are now doing - perhaps Orthodox high schools across the country should make a point of taking their most intellectually inclined students to their local universities to hear a series of lectures from public intellectuals. And, unlike last night, they should preferably be lectures which do not express the same ideological perspective that they receive in school. Then, the kids could return to class to discuss what they heard, feeling that they have been legitimately exposed to another perspective yet still having a safe and secure environment in which to digest it. The result might be that fewer of our best and brightest students will feel the need to break free of the "Orthodox cocoon" in which they believe they have been raised, and fewer will be overwhelmed by the free exchange of ideas and the radical agendas of some campus intellectuals, once they arrive at their college of choice. Just a thought...

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