From January 5th – 9th , shortly after the return from the holiday break, our young leaders kicked off a new school term with a long-standing tradition of the Academy; Seminal Readings. It was a week of close reading, deep thinking and meaningful conversation. To an outsider visiting during this week, you would think that by the calm atmosphere surrounding the campus that our young leaders were still on holiday but inside the classrooms, heated discussions over philosophical texts, such as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, are taking place. Each year group is given a general topic for the week which ties all the readings together; this term, the Year One students were tasked with “Overcoming Preconceptions” while our Year Two students were asked “What is a Good Society?”
In a world where Islamaphobia is rampant, migrants are discriminated against, and on a continent where corruption is perceived as a way of life and adopted Western ideals seem to always be clashing with our African norms; these two topics could not be more relevant. Most impressive though, is the level of maturity and consideration with which our young leaders delve into these readings and their ability to apply them to current events and how ready they are to share experiences from their personal lives to add further context for their fellow peers.
However, our Seminal Readings program does not follow a traditional discussion format; faculty advisors, who facilitate the discussions, are encouraged to use innovative methods to help make the discussions as lively as possible. One such example was a Year Two discussion led by Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty, Dave Tait and African Studies faculty, Reshoketswe Mapokgole who helped some of our young leaders visualize C.S Lewis’ The Inner Ring. Using rope to illustrate the three rings and Adele’s Hello they set the mood for what would become an eye-opening discussion for all involved.
The young leaders in this group debated over what they understood The Inner Ring to be, how it feels to be in a clique and whether, as emerging leaders, they saw cliques to be beneficial in building a ‘good society’.
One of our young leaders, David Anifowoshe (Nigeria), had this to say about contributing to a ‘good society’: “If we do it right, our weaknesses will be our strengths”.
It is safe to say that everyone leaves Seminal Readings changed and full of new ideas of how to carry out the Academy’s mission and vision.