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Journal Entry: The Jewish Teacher - Essay Example

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There have been many times when I have been an important influence in a student’s life, and narrowing it down to one can be somewhat difficult. There is, however, one particular occasion I remember very distinctly when I had a significant impact on a student’s life…
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Journal Entry: The Jewish Teacher
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Download file to see previous pages There was one student in particular who felt that there was absolutely no reason to learn Hebrew, calling it a “dead language” and saying that he would never, ever use it after this class was over. I tried a lot of tactics to get through to this student, from talking about stories from the Torah to pointing out how much art and literature is written in Hebrew, and how he will never have access to those stories if he does not learn the language well. After having many, many conversations with this student, it became apparent to me that one of the major influences in his life was family. No matter what else, he seemed very connected to his family and the traditions in his life. So then I began a different tact, asking the student some things about his family, his family history and so on. It turned out through our conversations that he had a grandfather that spoke very little English, but was fluent in German and Yiddish, and also spoke and could understand a good deal of Hebrew from learning it as a child. So I began taking special care to teach him more conversational Hebrew, to use connecting to his grandfather as a reward for learning his Hebrew lessons. I kept on reminding him to show off his new skills and language acquisition to his grandfather, asking him to tell me what stories and new things he had learned from his grandfather from their growing ability to communicate in the same language and so on. The student got more and more interested in Hebrew and eventually started becoming more engaged in the class than almost any of my other students. What really drove home to me what an impact these conversations, and his education had had on this student was a story he told me near the very end of the year. The student had attended a Bat Mitzvah of a close relative, and the next week came back to class telling me how excited he was to finally be able to understand the Hebrew used in the ceremony. He said that it made him feel connected to his family in a way that he had not been before, and kind of drove home the connections in his family that go back generations and generations, and what a large part his religion and culture play in his family history. And he finally understood that learning Hebrew was an essential part of who he was as part of his family, and who he was as a Jewish person. This was an amazing experience for me in several ways. First, it felt amazing to finally break through to this student who had stubbornly resisted learning Hebrew for so long. But more importantly, it was amazing to see how learning Hebrew helped this student connect to his family and his heritage, and how by growing more excited about learning the language he grew more excited about learning about himself and his culture. I have every confidence that this student will continue to learn and perfect Hebrew throughout the rest of his life, and will continue to grow more and more actualized by using it as a touchstone for his heritage. One strategy that I found incredibly interesting in The Jewish Teacher’s Handbook is using retreats. I think that in Jewish education, possibly more than in any other kind of education, community building is of supreme importance. Many other forms of education, where students learn skills and abilities that are supposed to lead to a direct, temporal gain at some point in their lives, by preparing them for colleges, jobs, and so on, which students tend to have a great deal of patience with because ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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