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Date: 2022
Abstract: Jewish education is at a critical juncture. The experience of Covid-19 has shaken and tested our schools, youth movements and our communal infrastructure. As a community, we have risen to the enormous challenges across the sector. The question facing educational leaders is how do we ‘build back better’? In June 2021, LSJS and UJIA convened an on-line symposium for Jewish educational leaders, providing a collaborative space to consider that question and develop long-term strategic solutions. Headed by Joanne Greenaway (Chief Executive, LSJS) and Mandie Winston (Chief Executive, UJIA), a steering group from across the Jewish educational sector led this project (see appendix one). Drawing on current international research on post-pandemic recovery and opportunity, we shared ideas and emerging models of success, captured learning from our lived experiences and considered how to use them to drive change. We started a critical process which we have subsequently built on to set a new, bold agenda for Jewish education, which crucially, has brought together both the formal and informal education sectors working with up to 25 yearold Jewish young people. We addressed the unique aspects of Jewish education, in which the interplay between home, school and community is so critical to success. We also needed to understand unique opportunities, like the potential role of our active youth movements and how best to harness it. Our focus has been twofold. First, we have been considering what is the best Jewish educational response to the cost of Covid, with its psychological impact on our young people and learners. It has placed an enormous stress on teachers, informal educators and all who work with young people in our community. Meanwhile, we have also addressed the lost learning experiences, including two summers of limited engagement and no school Israel trips or Youth Movement Israel Tours. Second, how do we create opportunity out of the crisis? How might we re-envision our educational organisations? How can we harness the opportunities afforded by new technology and what are its limitations? How have we been impacted by greater global connectedness? How have our young people’s attitudes to learning shifted and what does that mean for the way in which we teach and engage them? How do the informal and formal education sectors complement or duplicate each other? Are we best supporting and valuing the teachers and educators we entrust with our children and what status do they have in our community?