Monday, September 8, 2014

Pendulum swinging -More Knowledge?

Reality Check. Are you hearing the same trend that I am? Jews in their 20s and 30s are lamenting that they didn't learn enough Jewish content from their part time Jewish education. Young adults who go to Israel on Birthright can't speak Hebrew--not even enough to find the bathroom. This is a generation not turning to institutions wants"do it yourself," Judaism, yet find a you tube video is not enough to make a seder. These out-of-collegers are not hearing the old "it was boring story." Rather, I'm hearing it was fun--I had friends--but I didn't learn enough.

This trend, if true, is perplexing.
1. Learn more is not the usual cry of 12 year olds
2. How much content can you learn in a handful of hours a week?
3. I thought the digital age learning was less about knowledge because all content is a click away

Recently, a staff member in a "give kids a trillion choices like Israeli dance, karav maga, and making ancient pottery, explained why the program is not growing. "Kids already have a lot of  activities. They don't want more. Their parents in the end want them to know the four questions."

Is the pendulum swinging back from "fun, engaged, customer satisfaction," to deep content?
What are you hearing?

The challenge of course is that you can't learn content in a vacuum. You don't learn Hebrew by memorizing more lists of words.  Being able to lead Havdalah doesn't come from drawing pictures of havdalah candles and putting spices in an orange.

As the Harvest Moon rises (September 8 and 9) and the learning begins
it is worth re-looking at the design principles that are foundational to the work we do in New York . Learning will:
1. be content rich and accessible
2. build intentional and caring relationships
3. speak to the questions of learners-applicable to daily life
4. enable inquiry, reflection and meaning making

What happens to learning that doesn't embrace all four principles?
We fall short. What good are friends without content, or content without meaning?
I also what design principle is missing?

Takes so much time and thought to embrace all these  principles (built on the work of Jon Woocher and John Dewey).

Yet, each is essential, like when driving a car, you can't say I'll only use the review mirror and skip the side ones. Well you can, but there are consequences.

I challenge you fellow educators, and I challenge myself to pay attention to all four. The pendulum tolls for us!