A college student once asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe what is his job. The Rebbe gestured to the ceiling of his room and replied: Do you see that light bulb? It is connected by wires to a power plant that powers the whole of Brooklyn. And that plant is connected to turbo generators at Niagara Falls that power the whole of New York State and more. Every one of us is a light bulb wired in to an infinitely powerful generator. But the room may still be dark, because the connection has yet to be made. The job of a rebbe is to take your hand in the dark room and help it find the switch.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Dare We Change Our Educational Approach
One of my personal favorite bloggers and marketing gurus is Seth Godin. Around my office we call him Rabbi Seth out of appreciation for some of his insights and perspectives. Which prompts me to share the following anecdote about the job of a rebbe:
Seth Godin has a new free book, Stop Stealing Dreams - it is a manifesto, or in his own words, "This is more of a rant than a book". I think it is a must-read for educators and believe it has much to say about the structure of our schools and how we improve on what we are trying to do. In graduate school I remember being strongly impressed by John Dewey's works as well as George Counts who questioned the motivation and overall purpose of trying to teach children.
One point that Seth makes in the beginning of the manifesto is that our schools are essentially training students to be obedient and the skill set for an economic reality that has since disappeared. On the topic of tefilla, I firmly believe that a significant number of Jewish schools, both day schools and supplementary, have similarly not fully adjusted to the reality of a new economic and cultural reality and how to best prepare their charge for living Jewishly post-graduation. By this I mean the fast pace nature of today's communication systems, the interactive nature of social networking and sharing of information, and the powerful forces of agency working on the individual identities in a post-modern era. So it is worth reflecting on the meta-educational approach to what it means to teach kids how to daven and how to prevent their proverbial dreams from being stolen.