Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Interesting Viewpoints

Below is an excerpt from an email that I received today from a friend about a conversation that she had with a potential donor for a school she fund raises for in Israel. I thought the content was very interesting and wanted to pass it along..

"Last week I was talking to a prospective donor about the notion of how energizing it is to give kids who have nothing, EVERYTHING. So he asks me, "Why do you think it works?" In other words, most of the time, people think that giving money to "education" in general is sort of nebulous, and therefore wasted, BUT not to these kids since they literally start out with NOTHING AT ALL on any level. We launched into this whole conversation about the notion that given the proper education at birth, there are those of us who feel that the human animal will therefore be capable of good things -- true for anybody if you shape them right. So he says to me, "That's a pretty unrealistic, idealistic and Pollyanna-ish notion, don't you think?" And I told him, "Yes I do, but what happens if you DON'T believe that, then where would we be?" Then he tells me that most school systems are still immersed in the "fighter" philosophy -- teaching kids how to be wary and get a leg up in life, which is Darwinian and contrary to the whole notion of nurturing and kindness extended. He said, it's actually COUNTER INTUITIVE in terms of our reptilian brain and the immediate "fight or flight" conclusions it tends to jump to! I said, "No wonder it's such a hard sell! But, anybody who TRIES something is going to look better than somebody who doesn't. And when you try, then the results speak for themselves. On a micro level, Leo Baeck succeeds in creating leaders and they win education prizes for their efforts; on the macro level Israel's education system used to be in the top 5 and is now barely in the top 50. So what did he want to do about it? What would he want to go out and try? Which methodology? After all, nothing can be PROVEN unless TRIED first!

He started laughing and said, are you familiar with tough cases and overcoming? And I told him that I was, in a way, since my cousin was dyslexic and I had had to think about and research all sorts of ways that she could be kept up to speed. I told him that one of the things that worked the best was putting a marker above the text being read so that the mind has only one way to go. He said what else did you do? And I said that I always mentioned Niels Bohr, who was dyslexic, and won the Nobel Prize! I said for some dyslexics (like Nelson Rockefeller) money buffers alot, but I have always wondered about Bohr's parents (who were of modest means) and what on earth they could have done to encourage him! Food for thought, right?

At any rate, that conversation lasted 90 minutes! Can you imagine? I felt like I'd been put through the wringer at the end of it, seriously! All in a day's work!" ;-)

Have fun! I always do!


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