Active Learning in the Halakha Class

Summer, 2009

Source: Jewish Education Leadership, Volume 7:3 , Summer, 2009


In this article, Mark Smilowitz describes an approach to teaching halakha which enables the students as researchers. The approach opens new vistas for student exploration and can be easily adapted for almost any discipline.

The author attempts to offer a solution to the problems presented by the study of halachik texts the terseness of which tend to leave students under-stimulated and under-motivated.

The technique presented in the article is designed to draw students into the world of halacha as active participants, not merely spectators who passively watch the teacher explain it. It utilizes the very terseness of the text to motivate the students to ask research-oriented questions and actually carry out on other pertinent texts to find the answers.

"By re-orienting students to the nature and purpose of question asking, we allow them to become active participants in awakening the dormant world of deep and complex thinking that lies within apparently simple halachic texts. By letting the students transform a law into a doorway to understanding, we turn the classroom from a place to listen into a place to wonder."

Updated: Oct. 13, 2009