Inventing the Chance to Learn
Leonore Zweig grew up the daughter of a bricklayer. She grew up in a village called Lusatia and upon graduating from what we might call high school, she continued her studies. She eventually received a doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1921 and worked as a teacher in both England and Berlin, Germany. In 1923 she married a lawyer named Ernst Goldschmidt and they had two children.
Upon receiving an inheritance from a murdered cousin, Leonore established her own school in 1934. Leonore had lost her job the year before she opened her own school. Working for eight years at the Sophie-Charlotte-Gymnasium in Berlin, she was fired in 1933 because of her religious preference. You see, Leonore was Jewish.
The Private Judische Schule Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt or the Private School of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt as it would have been known in English was granted a license to hold official examinations in 1936. In 1937 Leonore’s school became an examination center for the English University of Cambridge. This meant her students could enter universities in the rest of Europe and North America if they scored high marks on their examinations. The school was shut down by the German government in 1939 and the Goldschmidt family, along with many students and teachers, immigrated to England.
Leaving their German home was not easy for the eighty children that accompanied their school’s founder. Most left behind parents and many never saw them again. Those that returned to Germany after World War II found a very different landscape and homeland and many discovered their parents had been victims of concentration camps.
A roll call of the students of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt is something like a Who’s Who of professional and influential people. Clearly they had potential and all achieved it. They made contributions to their world and the world was a better place because they lived in it.
This is the first of a two-part blog post regarding how we limit the opportunities of others simply because we might have a “perception” about them. The legal definition of the word discrimination has nothing to do with statistics or science. It does not involve theology or proven results. It simply is “disparity of treatment”. Like the Golden Rule that has been around for almost as long as there have been beings that walked upright on two feet, it refers to the treatment of others as we ourselves would like to be treated.
The Golden Rule, reflections of which are found in every code of conduct known to mankind, is an ethic of reciprocity. It is a moral directive that relates to basic human nature: Treat others as you would like to be treated; do not treat others in any manner that you yourself would not like to be treated; be careful because what you wish upon others you also wish upon yourself.
The so-called Golden Rule makes all of mankind inclusive in acknowledging that we feel and receive things similarly. It is not the same as another maxim of reciprocity, “do ut des”. That states “I give so that you will give in return.” The Golden Rule is giving without any expectation of something in return.
Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt taught her students without knowing what their lives as adults would be or how far they would go in their studies. She willingly helped them escape a Nazi regime that would have put them to death simply because she was devoted to creating a chance to learn for all who desired such.
Recently several states within the United States have or tried to enact legislation that goes against the chance for all to experience the same opportunities. Similar legislation has been introduced in other countries and many terrorist groups advocate the same or similar beliefs as those supported by these laws.
When we single another out and label them in such a way that prevents them from having the same chances as others, we discriminate. Sometimes such discrimination leads to people being fired, refused service or even being captured and killed in concentration with ovens designed to murder those “different” people.
Such actions do not give anyone an advantage and they restrict the future of us all. The students of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt are just one example of how important it is that we recognize the inclusiveness of mankind and not look only at our differences. If we want to continue the chance to make a better world, we need to live smart and live with kindness and equality towards all.