Do you know the story behind the Shell gas station logo? To remind our students that our curriculum theme “Einstein Explores Asian Journeys” did not end with the Curriculum Celebration, I gave a presentation the next morning on Marcus Samuel, Jr. Samuel was born into an Iraqi Jewish family in London. He got his start by polishing seashells from Japan and gluing them to black lacquered boxes. After coming up with the idea for an oil tanker, he was asked to name the first one; he named it Murex, a kind of sea snail. When he merged his shipping company with Royal Dutch Petroleum, the use of a shell became the ongoing logo for the company. The story goes one step deeper in that Samuel remembered that “My father taught me that a Jew lives not only in the present and future but also in the past,” which is why the logo was so important to him
The story of Albert Einstein Academy’s learning so far this year also goes deeper than what was on display Tuesday night at the Curriculum Celebration. Did you know that behind the kanji characters lining the front of the stage reflect a global learning initiative where 5th graders became pen-pals with students in a school in Japan? Did you know that the Venn diagram of the Chinese, Japanese, and Israeli flags reflects the Gan students’ independent comparisons without hints from the teacher? Did you know that the third grade analyzed multiple cultural fables from across Asia before writing about The Empty Pot? Did you know that in addition to learning about Japanese houses when drawing their own homes, 1st graders also watched videos featuring a Japanese child explaining how her house works? Did you know that 2nd graders learned the geography of the world during a gemstone unit that then helped them see where their Asian animal lives? Did you know that 4th graders took extra time to see what the Jewish role in the Silk Road was?
There is always more than meets the eye with learning at Albert Einstein Academy. Einstein himself famously stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” We engaged the imagination of our students to produce the knowledge on display. In contemporary educational theory language, we have problem-based learning, global citizenship, comparative analysis, critical thinking, multicultural understanding, collaborative learning, not to mention all the practice building leadership skills necessary to be on stage, singing, dancing, and speaking.
An AEA education is a deep education. Our current logo reminds us of the strong foundation built with Jewish pride. Interestingly, our school’s original logo was an atom with AEA written within the Jewish star that forms inside the spinning lines. As an elementary school, yes, we provide a strong foundation for future growth. During an AEA education, though, the wheels of learning are spinning toward a vibrant future. We produce imaginative energy that drives knowledge creation today, not just tomorrow. In the coming weeks, look for us to revisit that first logo as we share more of what an AEA education is all about. The Curriculum Celebration was a phenomenal moment in our year; there is even more that came before and will come after it; and I am excited to broadcast it with you.