Last year my daughter, who was then in the 10th grade, studied about the early Zionist movement for her history class.
I remember my own enthusiasm when I first encountered this material. I was
14, in 9th grade,
and was reading Leon Uris's Exodus for an English book report. The subsequent
10-page report was, my teacher ruefully told me, the biggest book report that
she'd ever received, but it expressed my new-found passion for the fascinating
history of modern ,
and would pave the way for my future involvement in Zionism and my eventual
So to say that I was thoroughly disappointed with my daughter's unenthusiatic feedback about her class ("It's boring. Who cares?") is an understatement. Needless to say, as soon as the test was over, my daughter and her classmates had forgotten 99.9% of the material that they learned. (They did seem to remember some of the personalities for whom Tel Aviv streets have been named).
In contrast, as I have watched the the JETS elearning history class with Yeshivat Kadima progress through the year, I see a different way of facilitating student learning that creates a true educational framework, not simply a mechanism for memorizing and regurgitating material. The Kadima students are studying about issues in Jewish history in a JETS distance learning class that uses the Haiku LMS (Learning Management System) for student assignments and projects.
In contrast, as I have watched the Yeshivat Kadima Haiku progress through the year, I see a different way of facilitating student learning that creates a true educational framework, not simply a mechanism for memorizing and regurgitating material. The Kadima students are studying about issues in Jewish history in a JETS distance learning class that uses the Haiku LMS (Learning Management System) for student assignments and projects.
The participating Kadima high school students are currently concentrating on the period of the Tanaiim. As opposed to a traditional history lesson of "x wrote this and then y wrote that while plony did something and almony did something else", the Haiku allows the Kadima kids to interact with the world of the Jews who lived in the years during and immediately following the destruction of the Second Temple, and to interact with each other as they learn.
Through the use of online tools and a dynamic LMS, the kids acquire information and then utilize this data to complete assignments that challenge them to think about the subject matter, consider alternatives and internalize the material. As I view the work on the Haiku, I see how the LMS can be used to foster collaborative learning and the development of critical thinking skills.
Concepts that we grapple with today, including "Land for Peace" and "Assimilation vs. Acculturation" are put in the context of the decisions that the Jewish leaders who lived 2000 years ago were forced to make. How could they ensure the continuation of Torah learning? How could they save lives? At what point did saving physical lives endanger the spiritual lives of the Jews? How could the leaders retain their leadership while making these difficult decisions?
The debates, flow of ideas and pure enthusiasm with which the Kadima kids are tackling their assignments ensures, I believe, that this subject material will remain a part of their lives for many years to come.
And isn't that the true meaning of education?