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Put iJudaism on the curriculum

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Our UK director, Chana Kanzen, had a comment piece published in the Jewish Chronicle this week.

Entitled “Put iJudaism on the curriculum”, the article discusses how technology is prevalent in student’s lives at home but is lacking in school.

Read the full article here.

iJudaism Chana K in JC

Article

At this moment my 12-year old is creating a book on the iPad, while texting her friends, googling on the home PC, logging into her school’s Virtual Learning Platform and skyping her grandfather. While I peer over my laptop, she takes out her homework, and photocopy after photocopy emerges. Finally, she takes out her pen — when was the last time I wrote? My five-year-old refuses to sit through his “Mount Sinai” of worksheets and I resort to bribing him with an iPad app. I have yet to work out how he manages to find the apps on my tablet device without being able to read.

There is a profound gap between what most children are learning in school and the knowledge they will need when they graduate. Do we really need rote learning when every answer known to man is on Google?

Why are we not using technology to enhance learning? Kids are savvy, and can find out information for themselves — just ask my son. Teaching them how to ask the questions in order to collate and present that information digitally may be more useful than learning, say, about the establishment of Israel by reading a textbook and taking a test.

With mobile phones populating most secondary schools, we have the most sophisticated forms of technology stored away in lockers — why not use them to tweet opinions during a discussion or scan a QR code for more information? It may be challenging to manage at first, but the alternative is to bury our heads in the sand. It could also do away with photocopying endless worksheets or buying countless textbooks, recouping outlay costs for the technology, and saving trees.

There are the obvious concerns regarding internet safety, and likewise the spread of misinformation on some sites. However, just as they are taught to use dangerous equipment in science lessons, they need guidance in web safety and etiquette, with teacher/parent training on how to avoid cyber dangers.

The teacher’s role is changing — but can our schools keep up? Technology must be brought into the classroom, and that includes Jewish studies, for which teachers often struggle with limited time. The “flipped classroom” model can change this — innovative teachers are putting lessons online for students to digest at their own pace, thus releasing precious class time for more in-depth discussion. And by asking them to create a digital resource rather than fill in a worksheet, there is the added bonus of more kids actually wanting to do their homework.

The best teachers recognise that education is changing, but there is a real need for high-quality Jewish educational apps and programmes that equal other products. At Jewish Interactive we are beginning to meet this demand, providing Jewish studies teachers with a resource they do not have to edit, mark or stay up late creating, only to be met with disappointment that it is not nearly as good as Moshi Monsters!

Tablet technology is starting to transform Jewish studies, with four-year-olds learning to photograph mitzvot for an interactive reward chart, and teens no longer having to carry 20 textbooks but using apps to locate key texts in seconds. Through effective use of technology the brick and mortar school building is giving way to a virtual world where we can Skype an Israeli child to practice Ivrit, share an assembly with a school on another continent and zoom in to Jerusalem when learning about holy sites.

King Solomon said: “Educate our youth according to his way”. If we “digital immigrants” do not respond to our “digital natives” and share our wonderful heritage in their language, we risk losing a generation.

This piece was originally published in the Jewish Chronicle (Edition 7520, 7th June 2013)
 
About the author
Chana KanzenChana Kanzen is the UK Director and Curriculum Writer for Jewish Interactive.  Sha has an honours degree in education, qualified teachers’ status and has been teaching for almost 20 years. She has helped to write and develop integrated curricula, established community programmes and lectures to parents and teachers on a variety of educational topics. Chana most recently was the Head of Jewish studies at Morasha Jewish Primary school in London, England. She left to become a teacher mentor at the Jewish Curriculum Partnership, an Educational Consultant and lecturer.
 
Chana is passionate about innovative kodesh teaching and leapt at the chance to be involved in Jewish Interactive. She believes that Jewish Interactive is the cutting edge of Jewish education as we know it, and has helped implement the programme in a large number of schools in the UK. Chana currently resides in the UK with her husband and 3 children.

 

 

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