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♦ Barbara Davis
"Veshinantam levanechah, “And you shall teach your children.” The words of Devarim proclaim the overriding importance of Jewish education. Even more critical than one’s own learning is the education of Jewish youth. “Every community is required to appoint teachers; a city without a teacher should be put under a ban until the inhabitants thereof appoint one. If they persist in not appointing a teacher, the city should be destroyed, for the world exists only through the breath of school children” (Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 245:7). But what constitutes education? These words resonate differently with us in the 21st century than they did for our ancestors.
We all have benefited from the learning moments that have taken place in informal contexts and provided us with lasting impact. In the founding discussions that led to the creation of Boston’s Jewish Community Day School, we identified Jewish camps as a model of Jewish education contexts. What made living Jewishly so much fun and so compelling for the campers? Which ingredients contributed to building tight-knit community among the staff and young people in only a few short weeks? How could we bring these elements to a day school?
♦ RAVSAK Staff
Take part in the conversation! HaYidion welcomes letters to the editor; send your thoughts to Hayidion@ravsak.org.
♦ Jonathan Woocher
What’s needed is a far-reaching reconception of the nature of school, one less aligned with the strictures of American success and more aligned with Jewish culture and values and a larger vision of educational excellence.
♦ Marc Baker and Becca Shimshak
The authors describe four core principles for integrating the best aspects of camp culture into day schools.
♦ Skip Vichness
A prominent, longtime camp advocate and administrator discusses a new program designed to foster productive interchange between camps and day schools.
♦ Jacob Cytryn
The author argues that we should put aside labels such as "informal" and "formal" and focus on elements that comprise good education in any setting.
♦ Karen Gazith
Teachers should create lessons and assessments that enable students to engage with the material in ways that are relevant to their lives outside the classroom.
♦ Amanda Gelb
The author puts forward "resilience" as a useful lens to regard our goals for the classroom, school culture and our students.
♦ Jason Feld
Preparation for the school’s trip to Holocaust sites in Poland involves methods to make the experience personal and reflective, removing layers of protective callouses that students acquired toward the subject.
♦ Daniel Held
For informal education in day school to be most effective, formal and informal educators need to work tightly on coordinating goals and curricula.
♦ Judith Schiller
The author draws on her extensive experience to offer a how-to for planning school retreats.
♦ Richard D. Solomon and Deborah Price Nagler
The Web offers an enormous panorama of new options to expand and improve informal education. Go to ravsak.org for this article with hyperlinks.
♦ Ronit Chaya Janet and Nicky Newfield
Students today turn to the Web for entertainment; schools can create Web environments to capitalize on their excitement for this media to benefit Jewish education.
♦ Andrew Davies and Aaron Friedman
Games derived from improvisational theater can help students internalize the stories, characters and lessons of the Torah.
♦ Shira D. Epstein and Jeffrey S. Kress
The authors propose kinds of teacher reflection and discussion that can lead toward greater student engagement and encourage an organic development of informal techniques in the classroom.
♦ Bradley Solmsen and Rachel Happel
Artistic exploration and Jewish exploration can and should be one and the same. Here's how.
♦ Shira Melody Berkovits
Too many Jewish educators in various settings confuse informal education with pandering; the author urges a different approach, blending sensory engagement and group dynamics.
♦ Debra Kira
The author shows a method for blending the student-centered approach of Montessori with the goals of Jewish education.
♦ Scott Culclasure
Ten years ago I made a risky career move. Leaving the public school where my reputation as a teacher was secure, I came to the newly-forming American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina. A pluralistic Jewish boarding school erected on a suburban campus in a southern city—as if this was not enough of a venture, one additional consideration gave me great pause: I am not a Jew.