Toward Creativity: A Theological Goal for Jewish Education

November 6, 2012

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, President of Hebrew College, writes that Jewish education should inspire and equip us to achieve the deepest aspirations of Judaism. He posits that an overarching and orienting purpose for Jewish education is to encourage Jews to emulate God’s creative nature and to become creative beings. He suggests some ideas for reorienting Jewish education toward creativity.

Among them:

  • We need centers of educational entrepreneurship and innovation that foster creativity. Too much of Jewish education looks alike. We need to move away from the generic and toward the generative.
  • Student creativity, problem-solving and the nourishing of imagination should be more central to our pedagogic practice. Jewish education should enable students to generate products, models, solutions, expressions that draw from Jewish resources throughout the ages.
  • Jewish curricula should be developed based on case studies dealing with real individual and communal problems that engage students in a creative process aimed at generating a variety of solutions.
  • Jewish education, at all levels, needs to focus on students’ passions and distinct learning styles, maximizing flexibility in learning modalities, pace and content. We need to develop modular systems that play to differences.
  • Jews need to experience Jewish education as fostering creative networks beyond the four walls of a classroom or synagogue.
  • Brick-and-mortar congregational/day schools are a 20th century model; we need to reconfigure the structure and sponsorship of Jewish schools through technology and global consciousness.
  • New configurations to promote creativity should be developed: Jewish magnet schools, day school/supplemental school collaborations, Israel-Diaspora schools, interfaith learning opportunities.
  • Pluralism needs to be at the center of Jewish educational experience as a source of creativity. Peter Berger, the prominent sociologist, has concluded that what most characterizes our age is not secularism, but pluralism. Creativity is often generated by the exchange of ideas and the intersection of diverse ideas within and between people.
  • Leaders need to be creative thinkers, and we have to invest in facilitating and fostering creativity as a core quality of educational leadership.

Read the entire post at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Nov. 20, 2012