As former prime minister Ariel Sharon was laid to rest on Monday, students across Israel engaged in discussions and conversations surrounding his image, work and contributions to the State of Israel.

Michal Cohen, director general of the Education Ministry, announced Saturday night that schools would hold activities in honor of Sharon, beginning Sunday morning and lasting through the week.

A lesson plan, including a chronological time line on the life and achievements of Sharon, short films of the leader and topics for discussion, was prepared by the Education Ministry pedagogical secretariat, and sent out to teachers and schools throughout the country.

The topics for discussion addressed the meaning of leadership and assessed the character of Sharon as a leader. Students were encouraged to think outside the box and develop their own opinions of the former prime minister based on historical knowledge of his service to the state.

A myriad of questions were recommended by the secretariat for discussion, such as: “What was Arik Sharon’s vision,” “What in your opinion were his contributions in shaping Israeli society” and “What type of leader was Ariel Sharon?” An example of suggested activities included the creation of an identity card for the former prime minister – with his personal details as well as hobbies, famous quotes, and significant events in his life.

Students were also able to view short historical documentaries and films of Sharon’s life and attribute famous quotes to the public figure.

Brothers Tomer and Marom, who attend two separate high schools, experienced different teacher responses to the ministry initiative.

Marom, a 10th grader at Alliance high school in Ramat Aviv, said his teacher raised points for conversation and engaged the class in a discussion on the life of Sharon and his contributions to Israeli society.

In sharp contrast, Tomer, an 11th grader at Ironi Daled high school in Tel Aviv, said his class has yet two hold any discussions or conversations on Sharon, and said that his teacher only made a brief mention of the former prime minister’s funeral.

While the directive from the Education Ministry addressed schools throughout the country, teachers were given autonomy to decide the scope and extent of discussions and activities, with some opting to dedicate an entire class to the subject and others just a fleeting mention.

Education Minister Shai Piron expressed his condolences Saturday evening to the former prime minister’s family, and said the education system bows it head in his memory.

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