While I enjoy reading different genres of literature, one “guilty pleasure” is post-apocalyptic novels. They are easy and entertaining, especially when traveling on long flights overseas. My most recent read presented a scenario where the entire human population had been extinct for nearly 1000 years. Left only to robots, Earth was being rebuilt in order to, once again, sustain humanity.
The robots were programmed with different combinations of personalities and aptitudes from 26 different human scientists and innovators from the last of the human race. This gave them the ability to recreate cities, infrastructure, and agriculture in anticipation of humans returning by way of cloning, from DNA harvested before humankind met its demise. However, they were still just robots and could only create from the limited perspective of their programming.
The novelist introduced Eve 14, a human girl who was “grown” in a laboratory. She was genetically predisposed to be physically perfect and have an exceptional IQ. The only problem was her robot “creator” could only teach Eve logic and the concepts of an advanced STEM education, without real-world application. There was no context for any of the “human” aspects of being flesh and blood and all that experience provides through the senses and being in and part of the world.
Eve 14 had never tasted real food, only nutrient paste from a tube. She had never seen a sunset, felt rain on her skin, heard birds singing, nor breathed fresh air. Most importantly, she had no idea there were other humans, like her; and so, the idea of relationship was a completely foreign concept.
As you might imagine, Eve 14 eventually made it out of the laboratory, where she encountered other human beings and a whole world she never knew existed.
How does this relate to the Menaul School experience? Each of us were reared in a household that formed our first impressions of the world and was the basis for how we interacted with and perceived everything around us. Until we started kindergarten.
Suddenly, we encountered people who sounded different, looked different, and even ate different foods than what we knew from our experiences at home. As we progressed through grade school, we also learned that not everybody shared the same worldview and often had very different ideas than our own. Essentially, we didn’t know what we didn’t know, until we were confronted by it.
Every Menaul student is embarking on a journey where they do not yet know what they will learn or how it will impact their life nor even matter in preparing them for a lifetime of learning. Oh, but they will!
Menaul School is uniquely positioned to offer, not only great academics and STEM focused college-prep education, but a World Smart education. It is exciting to realize the opportunities every Menaul student will have this year to meet, befriend, and learn from fellow students, who come from all over the world. Learning to celebrate the diversity of our student body and truly value the richness of different cultures and traditions will prepare each student for a much greater capacity for understanding and seeking to collaborate with others, in making this world a better place.
If the truth be told, it is not only the students who grow from these experiences but the staff and faculty, alike. Thank you for granting us the privilege of walking alongside your sons and daughters as they learn and discover what it means to truly be World Smart!
Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year, I pray that it will be a year of growth, learning, and discovery together!
Pastor David R. Breidenbach
Interim President & Head of School