Practitioner research was conducted on Grade 10 students’ arts-based projects of Numbers Chapter 12 in order to assess the value of using the arts in Jewish secondary schools. Based on interview transcripts, projects, and written statements, three themes emerged that demonstrated why teachers should use the arts in their classes. The arts provided students the opportunity to act as commentators, form personal connections to the text, and meet educational and curricular goals like memory retention and enhanced group skills. The following article provides a case study of two projects that used the same storyline in order to provide evidence for the importance of using the arts in Jewish education.
Ofra Backenroth (2011) notes that within Jewish secondary schools there is a hesitancy to use the arts as a substantive component of the curriculum. Despite this hesitancy, my anecdotal evidence suggested that the arts should play an important role in the formal Jewish studies curriculum. I conducted practitioner-based research with Grade 10 students in a community Jewish day school in Toronto so that researchers and practitioners can better understand what the arts offer Tanakh classrooms that traditional methods of teaching and evaluating do not. Two distinct themes emerged from the interviews that demonstrated the value of using the arts in Bible education.
- The first theme was that the arts provided students the opportunity to act as commentators on text and led to new insights into the studied story.
- The second theme to emerge was that the arts allowed students to form personal associations with the text that had not existed previously.
In the following article, I will present a case study of two projects that examine Moses’ "isha kushit" in Numbers Chapter 12. An analysis of these two projects provide an opportunity to consider the two themes and how students formed their own contemporary readings of the Bible which resulted in thinking about and appreciating the Bible in new ways.