What Jewish teens want us to know

English: Classroom in SIM University.

Image via Wikipedia

A panel of teens expressed their opinions in a workshop at a Jewish educator’s conference in Philadelphia called “Understanding the Teenage Brain.”

Who were they? These were teens already involved in post Bar/t mitzvah education, both in synagogue and community schools, which means they are committed to continuing their Jewish education.

I asked them to talk honestly about what they want from their relationship with their teachers, and from their Jewish education experiences.

Do you want to know the amazing things they said? Can you fathom the tons of resources we’d have to pull together in order to do what they’re asking?

Here are some of their comments:

  • When we come to class, ask us how we’re doing and how our day was
  • Get us involved in what we’re learning
  • Ask us how we want to learn the material
  • Create a sense of enjoyment in the classroom
  • Allow 5 to 10  minutes to debrief from the day, or give us the ‘free space’ to talk about what we want during that time
  • Don’t talk down to us
  • Don’t use language to ‘be cool’
  • Create an environment where we feel comfortable and not judged
  • Recognize that we have a lot of stress in our day, and we have a hard time adding more

Tell me what’s not doable here. And yet they felt the majority of their teachers were not doing these things.

Why not? What is the biggest investment we need to make?

We need to listen, or better:  Na’aseh v’nishmah. (Exodus 24:7 We will do and we will keep listening so we understand).

About these ads

About Ruth Schapira

I am a Jewish Educator of teens, interested in changing paradigms of Jewish high school education, incorporating strategic and creative initiatives and collaboration with like-minded organizations. Interested in creating new educational opportunities for Jewish teens using best practices and networking tools. View all posts by Ruth Schapira

One response to “What Jewish teens want us to know

  • Lisa Richman

    The comments of the teens certainly reiterate what we intellectually know. We need to create space in which they feel listened to and heard! Camp, free of many of the stressors (sic) children deal with during the year, provides the more relaxing environment in which those conversations can take place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: