Two posts in one week!?! I know, it’s unheard of, but I couldn’t contain myself. I just read this article at JPost.com and followed it up with this news release from the Hashemite Kingdom. Jordan’s King Abdullah is opening a prep school in Jordan that is “utterly progressive, utterly idealistic, and utterly optimistic.”
Part of the concept behind the school, according to Azar, is to offer families – who otherwise might send their gifted students to the West in order to give them the finest education possible – the option to send them to a top-notch boarding school in an “Arab framework.”
“The King’s Academy offers the best an American prep school education [has to offer] in a Middle Eastern context, with Arab culture, language, tradition and history,” she said.
The school is modeled on Deerfield Academy, a rigorous New England prep school that King Abdullah himself attended as a teenager. There are certainly some questions to be raised about the good sense of modeling a school after anything American in a part of the world that seems to hate the red, white, and blue with a passion; however, I am excited at the prospect that the brightest and best Jordanians will have a viable educational option that allows them to remain in their homeland.
The last thing Jordan, or indeed any of the Middle Eastern countries, needs is to export all its talent to the West. If the Arab world is to have a Renaissance and Reformation that will overcome the current hijacking of its culture, lands, and religions by jihadists and terrorists, it ultimately must come from within. While I remain skeptical as to the ultimate benefit of this education given the likelihood of it becoming very secular and very humanistic (and thus rather liberal and anti-Western), I think that this step is one taken in the right direction.
Europe and the U.S. can only export a limited amount of democracy and Western thought; the real changes, the relevant and meaningful changes, must take place in the minds and hearts of the people of the Middle East. By providing a means for real education to take place in an Arab context, this possibility looks brighter than ever before.