Teaching Torah for the 21st Century

Spring, 2014

Source: Jewish Educational Leadership. Spring 2014 (12:2) pages 10-14


Ronit Ziv-Kreger, a School and Learning Design Consultant to several Jewish day schools in the Boston area, translates 21st century learning into project-based learning, and presents a Jewishly grounded conceptual approach with applications from two different Boston-area schools.


She concludes:

"In the 21st Century, our Torah teaching needs not only to offer students access to Jewish wisdom, but also to do so in ways that befit our changing world. As John Dewey (1944) put it: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”


This article described two strategies for teaching Torah in ways that support students to develop 21st century learning skills, and help students experience Torah as deeply interconnected with the world. The first strategy is to engage students in service learning where Torah learning is central to meeting a community need. The second strategy is to support students to lead their own learning by involving them in multiple steps of the learning process along the trajectory from setting learning targets to assessment.


Both of these strategies lead not only to students learning content and skills, but also to care about the learning. When students care, they are more likely to see Torah as a lifelong source of wisdom.


These strategies also can help students to internalize their Torah learning and to bring something of themselves to the process of learning. Barry Holtz (1984) writes, “Torah remains unendingly alive because the readers of each subsequent generation saw it as such, taking the holiness of the Torah seriously, and adding their own contribution to the story.”


As educators in the 21st Century, our work is to support students to add their own contributions. In so doing, we help them create their own links in the chain, not only by learning and teaching Torah, but by doing quality work to benefit the world as Torah Jews who take the holiness of the Torah seriously."


Read the entire article in Jewish Educational Leadership

Updated: Jul. 23, 2014