Thursday, March 22, 2012

Introverts and the Power of Solitude

Today I watched at TED talk that apparently another 1.4 million other people enjoyed by Susan Cain on the "The Power of Introverts".  It gets more intense at the ten minute mark and has a nice Jewish twist at the end.

She discusses the "transcendent power of solitude" in her lecture and it really resonated with me regarding my attempts to teach and evaluate tefilla.  While addressing that we are inherently social beings, Cain promotes reexamining how people do not often enough seek within themselves and ape and mimic "the beliefs of the people around you without even realizing that is what you are doing."  This point zeros in on one of the key modes for teaching kids how to daven: modeling.  For the lucky and determined person that figures out the key to successful tefilla, probably through deep introspection, have you asked how they gained such insights? Usually I think the best practice is to copy their outward behavior and approach.  My 7 year old shuckles (sways) like I do when I daven and has done so before he even went to school.

Cain notes that Western Society has shifted from a "culture of character" to a "culture of personality" - I think this has only enhanced young people's disenchantment with group prayer.  Whereas inidividucals might find the need to have prayerful expression, there are fewer role models on how to do, or even lead, a dynamic tefilla.

Her take away message: Go the wilderness, have your own revelations, and unplug.  Can we as educators teach our students how to do this or are school's curriculum and exceptions too rigid?

What are your thoughts?

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