PaJeS Blog

21st Century Jewish learning – or can you think outside the Jewish box if you’ve never even seen tefilin?

Posted by - 31 Oct 2013


Online articles and videos about the changing nature of education are two a (new) penny. This video is a fairly typical one, pointing out what seems now to be a blindingly obvious fact that the world our children will inhabit will be completely different one to the one we know. And of course it seems to us all that the pace of change is so rapid, the nature of technological advances so great, that schools must start to teach children differently.

In November in Madrid, a European Jewish conference Arachim will be looking at ‘innovation in Jewish education’. It’s a reasonable assumption that participants will come  expecting to learn about the latest technologies, the newest programmes, and the most current apps or sites to teach today’s children to prepare for tomorrow’s Jewish world. The opening session however is actually raising a question as to not how, but why 21st century Jewish schools should be different.

Today’s Jews, the programme points out, identify in many different ways. But does this mean, ask the organisers ,that Jewish schools should respond by creating new ways of identifying and celebrating being Jewish or should schools see themselves as the repositories of a tradition that may otherwise disappear? Back in the late 60s, the American cultural critic Neil Postman wrote a book called ‘Teaching as a subversive activity’. A public review on Amazon (a phrase that in itself reminds us of the world in which we live today) describes this book as ‘still a must for any teacher who cares about empowering young people’.



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