“Revolutionizing Education” Speaker Series: Students Learn About the Middle East and Community, “Oasis for Peace”

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Students watch a presentation in a classroom The Secondary Education Program at the College of Education and Human Services has begun their Revolutionizing Education Speaker Series. The goal of this series is to bring speakers and events to Seton Hall University with the intent to revolutionize education to be more equitable and inclusive for all learners.

On Wednesday March 20th, Dr. Bob Mark, Scholar in Residence with the Educational Studies Department, took part in a presentation to students in the Secondary Education Program. First- and second-year students met in small groups and took part in his exploration of the historic nature of conflict in the Middle East. Moving from Biblical times to the establishment of the State of Israel and the conflict that has continued to grow since that time, Dr. Mark then directed attention to the only village in which Palestinians and Jews made a choice to live together in order to address their conflict and find ways to advance equality and understanding within their community, intentionally called “Oasis of Peace” in Arabic and Hebrew. Among their accomplishments they created the first Jewish-Palestinian bilingual school in Israel, called School for Peace.

His talk also addressed issues involving dominance, minority status, privilege, stereotyping, prejudice, and silencing. Small group discussion was used to allow students to share ideas. The history of the school, its innovative efforts to address language, privileging, and to open opportunities for dialogue and learning was presented.

Addressing the global nature of the challenges that diversity brings, the focus shifted to the United States. Groups of students were challenged to discuss a number of questions: Does silencing occur? If so, how? How does a majority group institutionalize its norms, values and the consequences for the minority group? They were asked to reflect on what they are seeing if they are in a field placement this semester (and to think about what they saw in their own schooling). As all the classes have been reading a variety of books focused on such topics, they were asked to cite from the various readings as they reflected on the issues.

The final set of challenges asked the groups to consider the meaning of the term social justice, what privilege meant in the US and in American schools and where power resides in the structure of public schools. The group-work on each set of questions was facilitated by third-year Secondary Education Students Marya Mahmood, Emma Murphy, James Lopez and Claudia Valverde. This event along with others in the Secondary Education Program mirror and accompany the coursework and readings assigned to students and discussed in their classes.

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