The 17 new models of Jewish education created by The Coalition of Innovating Congregations have been proven to be better version of religious school. Congregations need to therefore transform the iconic "classroom models" of Hebrew school with these models (e.g. near peer learning, learning in authentic settings) in order to enact 21st century best practices of learning.
When congregations do this learners
a. experience living Jewishly (e.g. enact social action, observe Shabbat, pray) (Doing)
b. develop basic skills to enact those lived experiences (Knowledge)
c. reflect on and articulate Jewish values and beliefs (Values/beliefs)
d. build relationships with Jewish peers, and role models (Relationships)
A short hand for these kinds of immediate real life outcomes is KDBB (knowing, Doing, Believing, Belonging) Coalition congregations have begun to use these kinds of measures to see their impact. Although difficult to do, congregations can name and measure these kinds of outcomes.
Our work now is to spread these new models--there is no other entity that is positioned to enable these kinds of outcomes throughout the months of September through June--
to more congregations who have not yet engaged with models and to congregations who are open to creating multiple models.
We humbly say that even when a congregation enacts itself to the fullest it is only part of a larger constellation of influences that help a child grow to Jewish adulthood.
So we ask ourselves, in addition to fostering these short term and immediate outcomes for learners, what is the role of the congregation and the school to increase the fuller constellation (cluster experineces as Jack Wertheimer calls them) of Jewish experiences (e.g. family/parents, camp, Israel, social action)?
This question posits the pivotal role we see the congregation, not just the school, must take.
We also ask what is the role of the congregation to be true centers of meaning that help a young person make sense of the multiple stops on their Jewish and secular journeys?
In the lives of families who affiliate, congregations are uniquely situated to foster a more holistic experience for young people that includes their "school experience" and extends to their larger congregation, their families, Jewish camp and their secular interests and activities.
In setting an agenda to expand to a more holistic model..that is for the school to be connected to the congregation and the child to be connected to family and the many stops on their journey..we believe there will be a spectrum of transformation for congregations.
Our next group of experiments is to foster Connected Education.
The landscape of experimentation will enable congregations to (a combination of below)
- change their model (e..g one of the 17)
- increase children's attendance in immersive experiences (e.g. over night and day camp)
- Connect the learning with the experineces of the larger congregation
- Deeply engage parents, activating their key role in raising their children to Jewish adulthood
- Activate the grassroots power of parents to make sure these changes happen
- Act as centers of meaning for the multiple stops of a child's life (e.g. integrate camp experience and synagogue experience; link secular curriculum and Jewish learning) curating and processing a child's experiences
Our next frontier of new models will be to uncover how to enact these dimensions of "connected education" in ways that are developmentally appropriate to children of different ages. This new generation of models are in service of achieving immediate short term outcomes and in service of the longer term outcomes we seek of engaged Jewish adults. These new models will harness the realized power of a congregational school and the yet to be realized power to connect the multiple experiences of a child's life.
What do you think?