EDUCATION leads into 2007:

16-year-old student re-shapes classroom learning

Tuesday, 2 January 2007


     In the New Year 2007, something new truly is happening.
     Especially in Education.
     Because of people -- youth and adults.
     Remember:  "Things don't change; people change." 
     Each of us can be part of Change in some way.
                - L&L

EDUCATION leads into 2007

     Something very, very important for the Middle East public peace process happened in Antalya, Turkey.
     November, 2006, marked a breakthrough, innovative educational gathering.
     The International Conference for Peace and Democracy was convened by the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, respectfully and fondly known as IPCRI .
     Meeting were 270 Israelis, Palestinians and international participants from 20 countries.
     Just imagine -- 85 Palestinians, 90 Israelis, and 95 participants from Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus, Uganda, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Spain, the US, Canada, Turkey, South Africa, Bosnia, and Iran.
     There were educators, curriculum writers, encounter facilitators, peace studies teachers, camp directors, conflict resolution reseachers, human rights educators, mediators, and representatives from academia, research, governmental and community organizations from Israel, Palestine and beyond.
     Fertile ground was provided  for dialogue and mutual learning, from academia to daily practice. 
     New insights unfolded, as diverse women and men listened to each other, learned together, built new relationships and made connections of understanding between various disciplines.
     One outcome is an e-mail network for the International Community of Peace and Democracy Educators.
     Gershon Baskin ( ) and Hanna Siniora ( ) have more information.
     Soon -- but not yet -- practical and profound findings will be at .
a fine article:

Published in The Hindu -- Sunday, 31 December 2006


by Aditi Bhaduri

A16-year-old student re-shapes classroom learning about the Middle East

     Rachael Cameron is a Jewish 11th grade high school student in California.
     She travelled last summer to Israel and was inspired. . .to learn more.
     "It made me realize how little I know," she said upon returning home.

     Back at school, Rachael pursued and was granted consent for an Independent Study project for academic credit.
     "Israeli and Palestinian Culture: Religion and the Conflict" consumed her interest for several months -- a school semester.

     Rachael set a new standard for high school education.
     She met and heard diverse citizens, in a world where most people slip into "taking sides."
     Rachael  interviewed over a dozen Palestinians, Jews, and knowledgeable others.
     She also watched films, read, and studied the Internet.
     She came to an unusually whole view of life -- beyond one-sided cause, beyond blame -- from the parallel but conflicting narratives she learned about.

     The 16-year-old didn't stop there.

     For her final public, classroom presentation of findings, Rachael invited interested teachers, administrators, interview subjects, and her parents.
     To each guest she wrote: "During my presentation, you will be members of the audience.
     "During the discussion, I would truly appreciate your participation.
     "However, please feel comfortable to participate to whatever degree you want.
     "Before this session, it would help to think about the following:
        1. What preconceptions do you have of the conflict?
        2.  What do you think has shaped these preconceptions?"

     "If these brief descriptions of my project and findings have sparked any questions you have of me, there will be a brief question and answer session at the end of the presentation and discussion.
     "I'm honored that all of you are coming to support me in this endeavor.
     "It truly means a lot to me. Coffee and small snacks will be provided. Can't wait to see you there!
      "Love, Rachael."

     That final day in the classroom -- Friday, 15 December 2006 -- 16-year-old Rachael, nervous but inspired, stood up to speak to twenty educators and others about:
        1.  the development and process of her Independent Study interview project.
        2.  her discoveries about how the diverse people continue to be influenced by events and faith traditions.

     And Rachael further raised the standard of education.
     She led a discussion among the adult attendees about their own:
        1.  preconceptions about the Middle East situation, and about the people.
        2.  responses to her conclusions.
     And, "most importantly," she requested:
        3.  your thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and solutions for the future.

     Ravi Lau, the school's Community Service Director, was deeply touched, as was each person in the room.
     "We must move from a culture of debate to a culture of dialogue," he said with confidence and emotion.

     Rachael's e-mail to participants said: "Thank you all so much for coming to support me last Friday.
     "I really appreciated everyone's participation in our great discussion.
     "Each of you helped to make it an amazing experience for me, and I hope you all enjoyed it as well.

     "Now the channels of dialogue have been opened.
     "I encourage you to take this conversation back to your families over the holidays.
     "Dialogue is the first step to bringing change and understanding.
     "This is only the beginning."      

     The teenage student-became-teacher and her class of elders learned so much together that day.
     About history, about today, and about creating a better tomorrow.
     About education -- learning across generations, beyond taking sides.
     About each other, and thus about humankind -- one, indeed -- and quite capable of living together.

     That day, Rachael stayed true to her high school's mission:

To offer its students a distinctive and exemplary education, the key ingredients of which are: the school's "head, heart, and hands" curriculum, the inclusive nature of its community, and its commitment to society beyond the campus.

     School, people and communication can be this way.
     Youth have so much to give, if we help them maintain their idealism -- what works in real life.

To contact Rachael about her experience and what she learned, e-mail to will be forwarded to her.