tl;dr, Vol. 5: The ADRABA Mindset
Dr. Bill Robinson has been running a series of think pieces at eJewishphilanthropy, exploring “Big Ideas” in Jewish education. This week’s hot take is the kabbalistic concept of tikkun olam. I don’t want to reproduce the title here because it’s way too long, or get into how tikkun olam, a seemingly benign concept, became a stalking horse for pundits. Instead, I want to address the notion that humans have to continue the work of creation is, essentially, an educational concept. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said it best:
Every person participates at all times in the act of either destroying or redeeming the world. The Messiah is in us. This is why every child is of such tremendous importance.
What Dr. Robinson goes on to describes is the ADRABA mindset. We acknowledge each child’s tremendous importance by designing our school to be flexible enough to attune itself to each child’s learning needs. (Traditional schools compel the student to attune themselves to the school’s needs.) While each student learns autonomously, blended learning also facilitates collaboration between learners in ways unimaginable in a traditional setting.
Our emphasis on design thinking combined with project-based learning (two techniques super-charged in the blended-learning environment) also prioritizes listening and empathy. Students observe the world (and its challenges) as an integral part of their learning. They ask questions and then work(shop) collaboratively toward solutions. These questions are not limited to devising a more ethical mousetrap, but how to practice tzedek and tzedakah on a daily basis to the benefit of the most people.
ADRABA’s emphasis on MAJESTY may seem kitschy (“It’s just STEAM with a J and a Y tacked on, duh.”), but our emphasis on yiddishkeit and Jewish literacy creates the context for excellent learners to become what Jane McGonigal describes as “super-empowered hopeful individuals.” And, God knows, our world needs many more of those!