Friday, August 17, 2012

Themes from the Coalition

Eight years ago the predominant alternative model of "Hebrew School" appearing in spots around the country was the Shabbat Centered Model. For example:

  • Beth Am of Los Altos: Families gather Saturday afternoon for Havdalah family/adult/child learning and celebration.
  • Beth Am of Penn Valley: Shabbat morning combination of  communal, family and child/adult experience.
Good reasons for the Shabbat model:
It's lived Judaism, there is a vibrant community of practice that lives what is taught, time for social and ritual, your clock gets set to universal Jewish time

I still believe in a Shabbat centered model. Lots of reasons.
I also believe in other trends that are emerging:

1. Individualism and community...congregations give you a concierge, or a tutor, and lots of choices so what you want when you want gets addressed..and they connect learning to shabbat or other communal experiences. Time for me and time for us...balance our American rugged individualism and the universal need for connection...

2. Out of the building
so it used to be bring folks here to the synagogue and then we'll be successful..now we see models where folks use multiple spaces: homes, museums, coffee houses, malls (and the shul)

3. Multiple models:
so it used to be that a congregation created one alternative track fits all..now we see lots of choices...you can do the holidays/shabbat track/ you can do the pick your courses from a menu track/you can do ...

4. Mentoring models:
so it used to be you had a teacher and that was that..now many models are training teens or empty nesters to be mentors. These models focus a lot on developing the mentor which brings to mind Avi Orlow's teaching that camp is not for the camper but for the counselor...

5.  I decide models: 
so it used to be a director, or a teacher or a few folks around a table decided "the curriculum" ..and that might have been we bought these books from Behrman House and those books from ARE..and now
what are the questions of the learners? Where are their interests..and that's what drives the bus...

6. Gateways 
so it used to be that "breaking down the silos" was a mantra we thought poor Jack Wertheimer could never get away from ..and now Jack, its happening, models that direct folks to Israel trips, to Jewish overnight camps and to other rich engagement..have emerged

7. The flipped classroom
it used to be the core experience for learners was the classroom..classroom management and engaging activities were at the center..forget about it..now the focus is the LIVED experience (livinglomed)
and the classroom acts as the pre and post learning...the cycle of learn, do, reflect with DO at the core

 Technology? I have to confess I've seen folks write about the use of technology..like they are going to get families to talk and learn on line..beyond Skype Hebrew and some blogs I haven't see the wow of that yet

So these are the trends I'm seeing in NY..what are you seeing as the universe tilts to a new norm?