Are We Prepared For New Approaches To Learning?

August 23, 2011

Source: The Jewish Week


Rabbi Gil Perl, dean of Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South in Memphis, discusses the boundary-less classroom of the 21st century, and the challenges it poses for Jewish education. He calls on Jewish day school educators to join the ongoing global discussion to help develop a new and exhilarating age of Jewish learning.

In his article in the Jewish Week, Rabbi Perl writes:

 "… in classrooms around the world we are witnessing the crumbling of traditional borders and boundaries that have delineated and demarcated our educational system for over a century; and in their place are new opportunities for authentic learning never before dreamt possible."

He discusses the crumbling boundaries that separated classrooms, disciplines and schools from each other as a result of ubiquitous technology, now allowing students in different schools, located on different continents, to collaborate on multidisciplinary projects aimed at solving real-world problems. He notes that the average Jewish child anywhere in the world now has more books in his or her library than the greatest Talmud scholars of old ever saw over the course of a lifetime.

He also outlines some of the myriad new challenges presented by the Information Revolution of the 21st century.

Rabbi Perl concludes:

 "…what 21st-century learning requires is time and courage. Time to reflect on what it is we are teaching — in all disciplines and on all grade levels — and the courage to ask why it is we are teaching it. Time to take a hard look at our curricula and the courage to consider whether our day schools are designed to best prepare Jewish children for the world we once knew or for the world they are going to have to face…

It is time for Jewish day school educators to join the conversation in earnest and adapt it for the needs of our community. Doing so will ensure that with the death of our old systems of Jewish education will come the dawn of a new and exhilarating age of Jewish learning."

Updated: Nov. 10, 2011