Corn Chowder and Sticky Experiential Jewish Education

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 June 2010 01:08 Written by bryfy Tuesday, 1 June 2010 01:08

“There was my good friend Betsy and there was also Vera. The room was dark and we turned the benches over as we sat on the floor and said the prayers. I  fasted on Tisha B’Av but only when I was at camp. And then, when the fast was over, we ate corn chowder.”

This quote above was from Susan (not her real name) telling us about Tisha B’Av as a camper. Now a camp director, the Tisha B’Av that Susan described, as if it took place just last summer, actually occurred 45 years ago. As she retold the story her eyes closed, her voice quivered a bit and everyone else in the room was enraptured by her story.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Cornerstone training. I was conducting a session about the “challenge” of  experiential Jewish education and an amazing thing happened. We had began by speaking about great Jewish experiences that we had. Those memories that really stick with us. One of the reasons that I offered that certain episodes in our life “stick” is because we had to go through some sort of challenging experience in order to have them consolidated within our own learning experience. I learn a new skill, I struggle with it, I finally work it out, eventually I might master it, then I reflect upon it – and I have learned. Professor Joseph Reimer at Brandeis University has also been doing some work around stickiness in Jewish education – there is definitely more that we can learn from the life’s broader disciplines.

But when Susan spoke something else happened. There was an emotion in the room. Not just the emotion that everyone felt for Susan as she recalled such a powerful memory. But an emotion that within this room, we all had the power to create these experiences – that would last with our campers, our students, our chanichim for 45 years and beyond.

What makes certain experiences stick and others fade?

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Peoplehood Follow Up

Last Updated on Friday, 7 May 2010 11:23 Written by bryfy Friday, 7 May 2010 11:20

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Evolution or Revolution?

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 May 2010 02:29 Written by bryfy Thursday, 6 May 2010 09:29

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be part of a dynamic, if not “messy” discussion about Jewish education and Technology hosted by the Lippman Kanfer Institute at JESNA and The Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts from yesterday’s event….

“I am very excited to be here today. I want to introduce you today to something that is going to change the way that we learn. It is so exciting that not only will it change the way we run our schools, but also has the capacity to change the way we live our lives. Now anyone can create information for others to see. We are no longer restricted to learning by ourselves at our desks with a book in hand. With this new technology teachers will be able to reach many more students than ever before. When new information is learned you won’t have to wait for a new book to be printed, you will be able to share it you’re your students immediately. If something changes or you make a mistake, you can just erase it and put up the new information for all to see. You can’t believe how much easier your life as a teacher will become – not just easier, but more effective and more influential. If knowledge is power, now you can share it with so many more people than ever before – we are truly living in a powerful time with endless possibilities.”

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