• Students, adults discuss current events in Socrates Club

  • There is a fable that tells of seven blind men who wanted to know what an elephant looks like.

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  • There is a fable that tells of seven blind men who wanted to know what an elephant looks like.
    Each are placed on different sides of the animal. One at the trunk, others near the legs and one at the tail.
    Each man had an unique perspective as to how to describe an elephant. But it was not until they all shared their different perspectives that they knew what an elephant was. The morale – reality is different depending on one person’s perspective.
    “We have to be open to other people’s perspectives,” said Lois McDonald at the Socrates Cafe in Independence Tuesday. “Everyone will be smarter for it. We will all grow because of other people’s perspectives.”
    Tuesday was the second session of the Socrates Cafe at Curt’s Famous Meats in western Independence. Don Schulte, a teacher at Van Horn High School, got the idea after reading the book, “Socrates Cafe,” by Christopher Phillips. The idea is to bring a small gathering of people from different backgrounds together in order to exchange ideas and experiences on one topic.
    The Independence Socrates Cafe included students from Van Horn as well as Van Horn principal Greg Netzer, Independence Mayor Don Reimal and two community members, McDonald and Jay Fisher. Fisher is also president of Van Horn’s booster club. The topic – teaching creationism in schools.
    “I believe that the only way to be fair is to have a determined amount of time to discuss both sides of the issue (creationism and evolution),” said Cassie Johnson, junior at Van Horn. “You have to spread the time evenly because otherwise one side will push back against the other.”
    The topic of creationism quickly evolved into other topics including world religion and the unrest in Israel, a situation that many described as a “Holy War.” Schulte said it is the goal of Socrates Cafe to have an open dialogue that can move into many different subjects.
    “I am pleased with where our discussions are going,” he said. “We have high school kids here and adults from the community. There is some great dialogue.”
    Van Horn freshman Shawn Taylor said he wanted to come to the discussion group in order to listen to a variety of different opinions. He thinks that although the topic of teaching creationism in schools is controversial, he believes people need to take the time to listen to each other.
    “Religion is something that is deeply rooted in people,” he said. “I think that people can learn from each other as humans have done in the past to learn to do everything else.”
    Reimal said he finds the Socrates Cafe a good opportunity to talk with students about local, state, national and even international issues, gaining a new perspective in the process.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I enjoy dealing with the kids and trying to figure out the questions of the day,” he said. “I get to hear what they have to say, and they get another generational-opinion on the discussion point. I think it is also a good exercise for the kids to interact with several different generations and hear everyone’s opinions.”
    There will be two additional sessions of Socrates Cafe on April 14 and 21. Both sessions begin at 3:30 p.m. at Curt’s, 10101 E. Truman Road, and are open to the public.

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