Feedback is good!
One of the most salient pieces of feedback we’ve heard in the process of launching ADRABA is: “No one I know goes to ADRABA.”
It’s true! No one you know goes to ADRABA… because ADRABA is a brand new program for Jewish high schoolers.
And yet, this tidbit of feedback highlights something very basic about the human condition – the ongoing battle between neophobia and neophilia – and the drive for “safety in numbers.”
I came across the first two concepts when I was doing my doctoral research. Simply put, humans waver and wobble between loving new things and fearing them. New things are novel. They add spice to the routine. They may even make your life better. However, new things are also untested. They might be dangerous. And they’re definitely disruptive!
“Safety in numbers,” it could be said, is an expression of neophobia. An individual prefers to be part of a large group, because s/he feels that, as part of a large group, s/he is less likely to be the victim of a mishap, accident, attack, or other bad event. There is trust that the crowd chose well, and even if it didn’t, the chance that the bad choice will harm them directly is small.
I don’t want to cast neophobia or the tendency toward “safety in numbers” in a negative light. Neophobia has tremendous benefits. In a chaotic world, neophobia delivers the comfort of the familiar. It keeps you safe. It also saves time and energy. “Numbers” also offer a level of protection against the forces of chaos.
However, if you’re too comfortable and too familiar, or just go along with the herd, you don’t try new things. You don’t grow. You don’t learn!
ADRABA’s approach to learning blends not only teachers with technology, but the desire to be safe and the need to take risks. We are profoundly grounded in an ancient tradition and look to millennia-old texts for guidance and wisdom. However, we also ask questions and bring new perspectives to bear when building answers. Where that leads is up to the learner.
This year, ADRABA is all about firsts.
We are the first Jewish blended-learning high school in Toronto.
The students who learn with us on October 28 will be our first cohort.
And the parents who signed them up were the first to see ADRABA not just as something new and potentially risky, but as the future of Jewish learning.