Friday, April 22, 2011

Sh!! Listen to the Most Important Person in the World!!

I've been teaching Jewish religious school for more than twenty years. These schools typically meet for about five hours a week, during the afternoon and/or Sunday morning. While students definitely need to learn how to read Hebrew and about Jewish history and culture, these are not the most important things for students to learn. The most important thing for students to learn is how to connect with their own inner voice. Some might call this the voice of God or godliness. Others would not. It's important for students to become calm and quiet. It's important to simply listen to themselves and the natural context in which they live.

You might say that this is an important topic for religious school but totally irrelevant to a high quality secular education. I completely disagree. All children, all people, have inner voices that seek to be fulfilled. These inner voices appreciate connecting with aesthetically pleasing phenomena - a beautiful sunset, a powerful camp fire, an inspiring story, the intricacies of a flower, silence. These phenomena help individuals connect with themselves and the world in which they live. Secular educational has a responsibility to help students learn these skills. Secular education has a responsibility to promote spirituality, a necessary ingredient for a self fulfilled individual.

Te December 1998/January 1999 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership was titled, The Spirit of Education. Numerous educational leaders argue that it is important to teach students to hear the spirituality of the world. The job of figuring out how to accomplish this goal is complicated. However, just because something is difficult does not meant that it should be avoided. Teachers and curriculum developers should certainly be focusing on this objective. After all, it is vital for human development.

One quick note before I conclude this blog post: Recently I have been writing a lot more than I have written for quite some time. Readers might be wondering why. The simple answer is that I missed the opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas in writing. Consequently, I took the important step of giving myself this writing venue.

While I am fulfilling this need for myself, young people do not yet have the capacity to fulfill all of their needs on their own. Nor can they even recognize all of their needs. Consequently, as educators we must help students do this. Spirituality is one human need. Educators must provide an outlet for spiritualism.

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