The other day, I gave a group of early childhood teachers a wonderful way to make charoset dishes for Pesach. It involves using clay flower pots. The artist turns the pot upside down and designs the surface with tiles. Since it is upside down, the lip of the rim catches any tiles that might slip. When dry, you place a plastic drinking cup as an insert to hold the charoset so the clay mosaic, itself, never will need washing. It’s a format I have used for years, in many age ranges, and it always results in a happy ending. Nevertheless, the charoset dish was not what I was really teaching. The true lesson came before…
Joel Lurie Grishaver
Shandeh School and Talmud Torah
From the mid-twenties forward, there were three kinds of Jewish education for most American Jews. Two were dominant and most were somewhere in between. There was the Sunday School (immato et xians) started by Rebecca Graetz. There was the Talmud Torah, a three day a week after school and Sunday community school, championed by Samson S. Benderly. And there were increasing compromises between the two made because of suburban needs. Remember the suburbs always win.
Over simply, Reform kids went once a week, and got “religion” in what Benderly called the “Shandeh” School. Conservative kids went three to five times a week and graduated after Bar and the occasional Bat Mitzvah into Hebrew High Schools. The Talmud Torah schools (the communal ones) also had a network of community camps—both camps and schools were focused on Zionism. Reform and Conservative camps came along, too. So did their focus on Zionism.
PrayerTech is a multiplatform integrated system for facilitating student development of Hebrew prayer comprehension and performance skills. Students can log on using a smart-device or standard computer to do work on their own. Through the successful completion of activities students earn game-time towards major (non-teaching) games that are part of this system. Included is students’ recording of prayer performances on their device and sending them as e-mail to their teachers.
Joel Lurie Grishaver
There are a lot of places to look for what is hot in Jewish Education. You can look at JEDLAB and JED21. You can listen to the gate keepers. You can examine the sessions done at education conferences. You can read Educational Leadership and other secular models. You can be part of a conversation of friends. There are lots of ways to look at the new stuff, to think about it, to figure out your own adaption, and to take it out for a spin.
So here is what I know. Experiential Education. Fad! Project Based Learning. Fad! Mastery Learning! Not so much. Design Thinking. Not Yet. The Flipped Classroom. Silence. Hebrew Through Movement. Trending!
Sometimes the conversations on JEDLAB are “ripped from the headlines”. Recently, the New York Times published an article called Lab/Shul Is an Experimental Jewish Gathering Still in Its Beta Phase featuring Amichai Lau-Lavie’s experiment in creating a new mode of synagogue engagement. This piece prompted two different threads that focused on different implications and perspectives.
The first thread, posted by Ken Gordon, framed the article within the context of worship and education in the context of performance and theater. What are the implications of Amichai’s description of prayer as theater and performance, Gordon asked. What can educators learn from this “lab/shul” experience?