Debi Swedelson Mishael
(Advanced warning: This is a trick question.) Which of the two students in this picture is on focused on classwork? The answer: Both of them!
It’s not often that I give a written test in our High School Religious School program. This summer, I have been collaborating with a group of educators in my community. We understand that an advanced assessment of our students will provide valuable information for us both in planning the unit of study and in determining the effectiveness of our instruction. Nonetheless, traditional pen and paper testing does not exactly mesh with my hands-on, interactive, make it fun and engaging teaching style. It’s probably been a decade or more since I’ve given, what most would consider, a “real” test.
Idie Benjamin and Dale Sides Cooperman
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago….
Humans are story tellers. From ancient times, people sat around the fire and heard stories of what had been and who they were now. These stories were not created for children. They were what adults told each other as the children presumably slept. And there were ways to share the stories with the children, so that they would learn who they were, who came before them and why we celebrate what was remembered in the story.
Stories are living, breathing things. To each story there is a central core, its truth, but as the story is told by different story tellers the shape, size, and colors can change. The core is always there but the details can shift this way and that. How many versions of Little Red Riding Hood are there?
Judaism is stories, and the Jewish people are story tellers.
The summer of 2014 saw a continuation of the shift in the culture of JEDLAB. Yes, for many it is still a virtual place for the exchange of ideas — a safe place to vision, ponder and discuss. But for many, it’s become a real launching pad for face-2-face professional development.
Over the summer there were a number of JEDLAB meetups in cities and venues around the U.S and notable, Israel. While the same ideas and concepts that are discussed in the cloud may have been the topic of these “in-real-life” encounters, what was different was the quality of the relationships formed. It made concrete the JEDLAB ethos of creating connections to enhance learning and engagement.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog entry “Redemption or a Service Industry,” One of my friends just hated it. It talked about the gap between Jewish educators’ seeing Jewish education as a “redemptive enterprise” while many parents see it as a “service industry.” It ended by saying, “In today’s Jewish world everyone needs to negotiate except the Prime Minister of Israel.” It tried to say that most parents try to renegotiate the school programs we offer in favor of the unique assembly of elective programs in which their child engages. I expected flack on my Zionist challenge. It didn’t come. Instead I got an e-mail from a hot new Jewish educator who saw it as a personal attack.
I said, “In social media where everyone gets a vote and an opinion, people learn to have it their way.” The educator responded. “And what’s wrong with ‘everyone gets a vote’? If what you offer is substandard and not engaging, then people will walk… What’s new about that?” I responded, “What’s wrong is ‘everything is a matter of a vote.’ it comes with no obligation.” The comeback was “What is the value of obligation? It’s a lovely word but I don’t know what you mean by it or why it’s good. Why should I feel obligated to something if it sucks? Obligation and choice are not mutually exclusive.”
Well, it is complicated….but maybe not as much as we feared.
danah boyd (she prefers her name to be fully in lower-case letters) is optimistic about the value of social networking in the lives of teens. Her research tells her that teens are not addicted to their phones and computers (as we often assume they are) …they are addicted to their friends (as teens have always been). Devices are best seen as tools in support of that addiction.