Tag: Education

Putting the Edge Back into Education

Educator Avram Mandel and Rabbi Julia Weisz

Seven other educators, Rabbi Julia Weisz and I sit together with convener Eve Fein as part of the Clinical Faculty meeting at the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education of Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. We gather a few times a semester to reflect upon the field of Jewish education and to improve our own work as Jewish educators.

This fall, we are focusing on studying Milton Chen’s Education Nation. [Read KQED’s interview with Milton Chen.]  Chen argues that we must “move the innovation occurring on the edges of our school system to occupy the center…”. Moreover, let’s “put the edge into education and create a sense that teaching and learning are exciting, contemporary and cool. As its most important enterprise, education should be on the ‘cutting edge of society, technology, and culture, rather than trailing other sectors.'”

Chen writes about 6 edges of education:

  1. Thinking edge – move toward a child centered approach 
  2. Curriculum edge – go beyond “subject matter silos,” and embrace project-based learning 
  3. Technology edge – face the “death of lectures” 
  4. Time/place edge – learning happens beyond the classroom walls, beyond discrete time periods, beyond a specific time of day 
  5. Co-teaching edge – increase teacher professional development 
  6. Youth edge – they have mobile computers in their pockets, how are we using them? 

These edges, Chen says, should be drawn into the center of educational thinking and work.

A worthwhile read, Chen’s Education Nation, pushes educational innovation in our public schools. Similarly, his perspectives necessarily shine light on the practice of Jewish education.  It raises many helpful questions to reflect back on Or Ami’s educational process. (A great institution – whether business, educational or religious – should always be reflecting upon its own work, vision, processes, successes and failures.).

  • How might we place the child at the center of his/her Jewish learning, especially as our teens? 
  • In what ways might the synagogue introduce project based learning into our curriculum? 
  • We usually tell our kids to unplug when they enter the synagogue. How might allowing them to plug in more deeply deepen their bonds with their synagogue and Judaism?

Have you read Chen’s book? What have you learned from it?

Strangers No More: Academy Award Winning Film about a Tel Aviv School on HBO

Strangers No More, the Academy Award winning documentary about Tel Aviv’s Bialik-Rogozin School, debuts on Monday, December 5th (6:45-7:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

According to the eJewish Philanthropy blog:

The school, serving one of the most economically challenged and socially diverse student populations in Israel, has morphed from a failing one to a highly successful and closely watched model for improving students’ lives and outlooks, strengthening and supporting families, advancing assimilation and socialization into Israeli society, and changing social and cultural attitudes toward respect of the other. Karen Tal, Bialik-Rogozin’s former principal, was recently awarded the 2011 Charles Bronfman Prize for her work with the school. [They] highly recommend tuning in if you haven’t yet seen the film. 

The film is poignant and highlights the creativity that is Israel:

In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from forty-eight different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin School fleeing poverty, political adversity and even genocide. 

Here, no child is a stranger.

Strangers No More follows several students’ struggle to acclimate to life in a new land while slowly opening up to share their stories of hardship and tragedy.

With tremendous effort and dedication, the school provides the support these children need to recover from their past. Together, the bond between teacher and student, and amongst the students themselves, enables them to create new lives in this exceptional community.