“But I’ve already been to the museum!”

Negotiating with teens when they say "been there, done that!"

Negotiating with teens when they say “been there, done that!”

The entire school was taking a trip to the relatively new National Museum of American Jewish History, located in Philadelphia. The museum, with thousands of historic treasures, interactive exhibits, and multi-media presentations, has caused many people to say that they could spend days there and not see everything.

Yet, we heard that one student, when he learned about the trip, went home and confidently told his mother: “I don’t want to go. I’ve already been to the museum once.” 

The comment above is not specific to the museum. It is a catch phrase for all things that kids think they’ve already done, if they’ve done it once.

I remember working with a student on his course selections for the coming year. I suggested a class that I thought he’d find really interesting, based on his background. He didn’t ask me any clarifying questions, and without missing a quarter-note, told me assertively: “I don’t need to take that class, I’ve already taken Talmud!”

Put in whatever word works for you here, so that the comment would be equally humorous:

“I don’t need to take that class, I’ve already taken engineering.” (architecture, medicine, fine arts, or any area of study that could be endlessly interesting if someone had the interest).

So, how as parents and educators do we get past the “been there, done that” syndrome?

With patience, explanations, and the confidence that we know better. 

We should never assume because someone is in school, that there is a deep understanding of the process of learning.

We need the confidence to communicate that when it comes to learning anything, revisits are important and necessary. Gaining depth of a subject matter, seeing things again from a new perspective, is a good thing.

Let’s think about that, and let that very thought bring sweet smiles to our faces when we meet at our Seder tables and hear “But we did this last year!”

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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

2 responses to ““But I’ve already been to the museum!”

  • Ruth Schapira

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply Micol! Your points are well taken, and as our tradition teaches, revisiting, re-evaluating, refining…all parts of our interpretive process for Parshat Hashavua, is a good model for more intensive study.

  • Micol Zimmerman

    Thanks for this post Ruth. I absolutely agree that subject matter should be revisited, not just as an essential part of the cognitive process but also because it is such a value in our tradition of revisiting our story year after year, as you alluded to regarding the seder.
    It is also important for the educators to recognize that the onus is on them to continue to develop and reimagine the subject matter and not simply repeat what the students have learned in the previous year. How can that trip to the museum offer new learnings and experiences? How can the seder continue to be relevant to the student, considering that they change every year intellectually, developmentally, emotionally, etc…

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