It’s really a great thing that Jewish education awards (and their ceremonies) don’t have a swimsuit competition. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t win.
Of course, I am being completely ridiculous. But Jewish education is incredibly important and it always makes me feel good to hear when some amazing educators are getting their due.
Lowell Milken from the Milken Family Foundation created the MFF Jewish Educator Awards as “a forum that recognizes the work of outstanding Jewish educators. The award is presented annually to deserving Jewish educators as a way of acknowledging their efforts in support of their students, their professional leadership and their relationship with the families and communities that rely on their teaching skills and their devotion to their work”.
Lowell Milken created several non-Jewish education programs as well, though with this award process the hope is to “strengthen the moral of Jewish teachers”.
I’m all for this, frankly. Jewish education can be, at times, a lousy job. You have boards breathing down your neck, parents who want their kids to speak fluent, modern Hebrew and decode Biblical Hebrew when they don’t even now what “baruch atah” means. And of course, there’s a competitive job market. There are only so many Jewish educator jobs around, to the point that I worry the output of Jewish educators from bigger schools will burst the bubble, especially in the innovation world.
If there’s no point, don’t do it.
If there’s no point to an arbitrary rule, don’t follow it. If you’re lacking kavanah (intent), don’t pray it. If you’re assigning busy work to your class to keep them busy while you nurse a migrane, don’t teach it. Just as we do not learn ethics from following laws by rote, we don’t learn meaning and content from educational experiences that do not pack a punch.
Enough negatives: invision conversations with 3rd graders about the Best Moment Ever in the nighttime hours of erev Shabbat. Imagine building an edible Sukkah, eating it too quickly, then sitting in a food-coma while you read a story of the mystical Ushpizin and brainstorm your own guests. Gird your loins as you imagine 4th graders staging a mini-action in which they make banners, signs, and chants to create a political campaign for Tu B’Shvat, inspired by The Lorax, and shout [Read more…]
Retired professor Bernard Klein on educating people for a better tomorrow. Filmed at Congregation Beth Israel, Portland, OR. The G-d Project is the world’s first social media platform dedicated to Jewish spirituality. Visit www.theg-dproject.org