Examining Your Educational Philosophy

Earlier today I facilitated a presentation for the national NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth), the youth affiliate of the Reform Movement.  I had been asked to help their staff think about how educational philosophy is an important part of youth education planning.   While many of their staff had – at one point – written educational philosophies, some had not and some hadn’t looked at them in a while. Others shared that they review it every year as a way to reflect on the prior year and to set the tone for the year ahead.  We also discussed the importance of helping their teen leaders frame their roles as board members through the lens of Jewish educator – and therefore the need for the teens to start articulating their personal educational philosophies.   At the end of the conversation, I shared my own educational philosophy.  Writing it is an iterative process, so the version I share with you today might change based on tomorrow’s experiences.

I am wondering – how many of my colleagues have written/articulated educational philosophies?  how many of my colleagues have shared their educational philosophies with their staff/colleagues/lay people/community partners?  how many of my colleagues are congruent in their actions and their written philosophy?   I invite you to share your educational philosophy in the comments section – perhaps inspiring others and perhaps as way for others to hold each of us accountable.

I am committed to experience-based and experiential education techniques–leveraging the text Na’aseh v’Nishma to convey the context. With pre-teen, teen and adult learners I champion for educators to serve as mentors/facilitators guiding learners to make their own educated conclusions about practice and thought; allowing the learner to personalize and own their Judaism because they understand the “why.” I believe in educating Jews to personal choice and meaning-making.

As the home is the primary indicator of adult Jewish identity, I believe in the power of Jewish family education.  My goal is to help all Jewish professionals assess the way their organization and their education offerings help educate the entire family.

I believe in creating education opportunities where I can nurture people’s passions and develop multiple entry points that get people entrenched in community.  The critical role that community plays in the learning environment is an essential aspect of any learning plan. I am committed to explicitly creating community as goal of all curricula.

My goal is to create an education system which enables Jews to make a shift to a “brit of faith” from a “brit of fate.” Ultimately developing a Jewish community where all Jews are actively “choosing Judaism;” are inspired to Jewish curiosity; expressing their identity in attitudes, skills, behaviors and knowledge; and viewing every aspect of their lives through a Jewish lens.


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