Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Thoughts

A couple of days ago, Mrs. Wiener announced the Frisch LEADS project to our English class. You can probably guess how most students reacted. Even if they didn't vocalize their thoughts, it was clear that my fellow students were experiencing a sinking sensation in their stomachs at the thought of actually doing work during senior year...on top of a regular AP English Literature curriculum no less!

Now, I don't mean to say that I always enjoy school work, but I didn't get that sinking sensation in my stomach. Gasp! She what?? Let me explain myself...

I am a big fan of this kind of project-based, student-directed work because we, the students, are given the freedom to be creative and inventive while simultaneously developing our research and communication skills. I find that my peers often complain about school not because they don't want to learn, but because most of what we learn in school is conveyed in a dry, mundane manner. Who wants to sit at a desk and furiously copy down what the teacher says for ten periods a day? These kinds of projects have the potential to break down the barriers that prevent so many students from actually- can I say it?- enjoying high school. Now, I am pretty sure that my fellow classmates and I will still complain about the blogging requirements (not to mention the final assignment) but my guess is that deep down, each of us will gain from this project something that cannot be acquired via frontal classroom learning. 

I have gone through a few topic ideas and I think I've settled on one that ties in to the paper I am writing from the Tikvah class. My Tikvah topic is the individual versus the collective in Judaism and American democracy, and how the distinction between a faith based on covenant and a political structure based on social contract may shed some light on this issue. These questions will hopefully be addressed in my paper: How are we to reconcile the Jewish tradition's insistence on mutual responsibility with the American value of individual freedom and responsibility? How are we, as American Jews, to look at the conflict between individual and community? What are our responsibilities to our respective communities and to the world?

I really like this topic, but I don't want to do the exact same thing for Frisch LEADS. I'm toying with the idea of using individual vs. mutual responsibility as a springboard to explore the American-Jewish approach to the pressing social issues of our time. How do American Jews view homelessness, education inequality and the like? What's more, how should we view these issues given what our faith has to say about social responsibility? As a final project, I might create the organization that Mrs. Wiener, a fellow classmate and I have been discussing for the past few months. 

On the other hand, I'm interesting in so many other areas that would make great projects! I'd love to do my project on education, whether it be general education or specifically jewish education. I'm also interested in social action/entrepreneurship, marketing/advertising, psychology...the list goes on! I may regret limiting myself to philosophy...or not.

I'll be brainstorming a lot in the coming days. More on my progress next time...

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