My mind is a Twitter. I’m all Blogged out. And I can’t spend anymore time in the Apple App store. I’m uncomfortable, in brain pain, and petrified of what I don’t know. And I couldn’t be more excited or invigorated about it.
The last 2 ½ days at EdJewCon 5772.0 were some of the best and most inspiring days I have spent thinking about what Jewish education can be in the coming decades. (I am intentionally NOT using” in the 21st century” as I have come to be uncomfortable with the term, thanks to all of you :) ) I am thinking about my responsibility in making this a reality. After all, I matter, Angela Maiers reminded me. I keep thinking about what an incredible paradigm shift and reallocation of resources on a communal level would be needed to quickly upgrade and realign what we do, how we do it, and re-focusing on why we do things the way we do. We talk about Jewish continuity and Jon Woocher suggested that maybe “continuity” isn’t our agenda anymore. But even if it is, we can’t continue in the way we are approaching Jewish learning and community engagement. We will leave the learner behind. And therefore we leave the Jews behind. Our tradition and text can come alive even more if we use technology and current learning tools to enliven and inspire interest in the rich, complex, and meaningful tradition that we are responsible for.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs spoke of the 5 C’s necessary for curriculum and learning to be relevant and current to our learners. Learning must involve communication, connection, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. The content that Jewish education brings to the table is the perfect match. Inherent in our tradition and our text is communication, connection, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. The Talmud and the Commentaries are one long conversation and communication between thinkers, scholars, generations, and societies. Critical thinking is innate, it is part of the Jewish DNA.
The past few days, learning with Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Angela Maiers, Silvia Tolisano, Jon Mitzmacher, and Andrea Hernandez have inspired me to think deeply about what it means to alter our Jewish educational system. What do I, as a community Jewish educator, who sits every day in the 3rd largest Jewish community in the United States need to do to get community leaders, funders, parents, educators, and community professionals to understand that this is not a choice. This is an imperative. We can’t sit in our 20th century structures, with our 20th century institutional boundaries, and our 20th century learning tools and expect the residents of the 21st century to be inspired by what we offer them.
The opportunity to connect and communicate with the Jewish community on a global level has never been easier. Israel and Jewish communities around the world don’t need to be distant relatives and others, they can be members of our Jewish communities, working together to do what we as a people are commanded to do, be a light unto the nations and spend our days L’taken Olam.
As uncomfortable and unsure of next my next steps as I am, I am inspired and motivated to keep thinking, trying to make sense of the Twitter feed in my head, the Twitter feed on my phone, and the conversations both in person and online that I have entered into, in order to figure out our next steps. Heidi Hayes Jacobs consistently challenged us to think about teaching and learning in a new way. She modeled ways in which content and curriculum and engagement can come alive in ways it never could before. We have the choice to make learning relevant, or not. We can choose not to, but why? And at what expense?
So thank you Edjewcon5772.0. I will be tossing and turning, my brain will not be sleeping, I will be feeling growing pains, and I will be continually uncomfortable. Mission accomplished. Because OR NOT is not an option.