MAJOR UPDATE: Expanding Educational Expectations
By ISJL Education Fellow Carrie Bohn
Take a look at any ISJL Education spiral and you will see a few consistencies: ‘Big Ideas’, ‘Students Should Be Able To(s)’, and the blood, sweat, and tears that come from creating a fully-scripted curriculum (apologies if any of the literal blood, sweat, and tears made it onto any of your spirals). The BI(s) and SSBAT(s) reflect ten key content areas of Jewish education such as God, values, and holidays. Since their inception, these themes served as the backbone of the ISJL Curriculum. These content areas represent not only the spirit of the ISJL but also epitomize modern Jewish life. In trying to keep with the times, we want to embrace the nuance of Jewish life by adding in a few new educational goals. We consider these changes not a degradation of our prior key content areas but rather a healthy addition. The following list outlines our three new key content areas:
The Birds and the Bees
Think back to when you were a child and you would instantly become friends with the other kids who were seated at your table or near your desk. More often than not, these friendships turn into long-term love affairs. Statistics show that 95% of childhood couples get married! Given those astounding numbers, it is vital that we start thinking critically about the future of the Jewish people and reorganize where we place our Sunday school students in the classroom. Since Jews are not quite known for their athletic abilities, teachers can sit a more athletic student next to a less energetic one to help their relationship blossom. This way, we can make sure that future generations are not burdened by their genes and have a better chance of not getting picked last in gym class.
In the 10th century BCE, King Solomon built the First Temple. Centuries later, the Babylonians destroyed it. Thereafter, we built another holy space, only for it to fall in 70 CE. The ISJL has recently become inspired to take the construction of a third temple into our own hands. Where the temple will be we may not know, but as Jewish leaders in the community we are doing our best to prepare students to help us build the third temple. When handing out curriculum this year at conference, we accompanied our newest spirals with barbells and dumbbells. These weights will prove useful when we roll out our new supplement “Generating the Next Judah Maccabee”. Third Temple, here we come!
We all know that Jews do not really want to have their styles cramped by other religious groups’ proselytizing. However, due to the ever-changing social landscape, it has come to our attention at the ISJL that maybe our outreach efforts have not been strong enough. The next generation of Jewish leaders exist in our religious school classrooms right now, and equipping our students with the tools necessary to spread Jewish ideas is critical. We need to be more radical in our efforts! Coming this fall, students will participate in a new set induction in which they script an elevator pitch to explain why their non-Jewish friends should convert to Judaism. With these persuasive words in mind, students will try their best to expand the influence of their faith and culture among their social circles. What could go wrong?
At the ISJL, we cherish our responsibility to educate and engage Jewish children. Approaching relevant issues in our region, the original ten key content areas were due for a little face-lift; and now, just like a b’nai mitzvah (children of the commandment) child, we have reached 13. We hope that you will eagerly accept and implement all of these new ISJL additions for the sake of the future Jewish community. Happy Teaching!