Synchronicity II

by | Nov 12, 2018 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

This addendum to the previous post will NOT be a nod to “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, although it’s a pretty good poem and speaks all too powerfully to the present moment.

Instead, it will hearken to the Police’s third single from their chart-topping 1983 album Synchronicity.  But only slightly…

In case you’re just joining us, “synchronicity,” as observed by founder of analytic psychiatry Carl Jung, describes the.experience whereby an individual creates meaning out of coincidental events.

And I went on to observe that, of late, many of the concepts folks in the education and ed-tech sector have been touting lately as “the future” have been part of the ADRABA conversation for what is now seven years. 

It happened again today.

Paul Bernstein, founding CEO of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, penned a short piece at eJewishPhilanthropy, about “unlocking the potential of Jewish day schools.”  (You can read it here.)  Prizmah is an umbrella organization that “provides day schools with tools to foster the educational excellence, financial vitality and community support that will make a day school education the first choice for Jewish families.”  (For more info, click here.)

(If y’all haven’t connected the dots yet, I subscribe to the eJewishPhilanthropy newsletter.  It’s good to keep up on current events, you know…  You can subscribe here.) 

Though it’s not a long piece, I’ll sum it up for you:  Prizmah just published its five year plan.  (You can read it here.)  For day schools to succeed, Prizmah, must (1) deepen talent, (2) catalyze resources, (3) accelerate innovation, and (4) network to learn.

ADRABA was inspired by and designed to accelerate innovation in Jewish education.  As part of the drive to innovate, we, too, want to “catalyze resources.”  But what does that mean exactly?  Bernstein (and Prizmah) sees catalyzing resources as “generating revenue and supporting schools to secure the funding they need to flourish.” 

For ADRABA, it means creating a 21st century Jewish high school that is lean and mean-ingful.  With the assistance of technology, we can do more with less.  An obvious example is the ability to disseminate information more quickly without a photocopy machine, paper handouts, envelopes or stamps.  However, with technology, we can also engage with the next generation of Jews in a way that is more current, relevant and responsive to their lives as 21st century Jews.  This means liberating the learner from learning in between bells, compasses and protractors, the 8 o’clock hour, and the blackboard in a square-shaped cell along a long central hallway. 

As much as technology has the potential to liberate, it also threatens to up-end the current order.  (Just ask cab drivers how they feel about Uber.)  Technology presents a challenge to the current cohort of educators.  As a lifelong teacher, I make a living doing something I love to do – learn.  And I do it everyday – lucky me! 

However, teachers work in schools – and schools are arguably one of the most conservative institutions that exists in our society. Are schools  conservative because of the temperament of the individuals involved – or because of the school’s massive size, rigid schedule, compartmentalized learning, or simply because of centuries-old traditions?  Are teachers loath to fundamentally change the way they teach because they are the agents of lack-of-change or because the schools in which they teach discourage it?

Does it matter?  Either way, the learner experience suffers.  Students may be getting a “good education,” but it won’t prepare them for what’s coming in the remaining 80% of the 21st century.

It is heartening to see Prizmah mobilize its resources to empower professional and lay leaders to transform their schools into vibrant centres of learning and Jewish community.  We at ADRABA hope that part of this empowerment involves new ways of teaching and learning, energized and driven by technology. 

…And before y’all fret about jettisoning traditional education to be trendy, remember that 500 years ago, printed books were considered cutting edge technology.  Where would we be today as Jews if our teachers back then rejected books because they thought it was a fad?

There are some things, however, that ADRABA cannot do alone.  We are looking for friends, for supporters, and like-minded innovators to extend our reach, sound out ideas, and support each other in our communities. 

Prizmah understands that innovation happens when “we come together, activate a network of networks, and enable school leaders to harness the power of connecting. We believe that when we learn together, grow together, and create together, schools are destined to thrive.”

We consider organizations like the AviChai Foundation, Sefaria and Shoresh as part of our friend circle.  We look to Prizmah to help us connect with more across North America. 

Perhaps that is why the Prizmah 5-year plan is entitled “B’Yachad” – because, in the end, Jewish day schools will only succeed if they encourage viable, engaged Jews to take up the mantle of sustaining the Jewish community.  And the community will only survive if it understands the value of supporting the day schools whether their kids attend them or not.

ADRABA, too, is committed to this proposition.  Can we count on your commitment as well?  Can we do this together?