Inspired by Aurora Mendelsohn’s open-ended FB question about coming up with “a list of ways stuff that is taught in the classrooms of day schools is ignored by the day school community”, I thought of a different thought experiment…
With the malaise of Jewish education still as thick as malaise-ess (with its viscosity increasing exponentially since the 1989 Tikkun piece by Isa Aron on this subject), this is as good a time as any to start a free-wheeling discussion about the potential of a Jewish day school education.
But first, some rules of engagement.
Participants must agree that the tuition model as it currently exists is unsustainable, classist (But what’s wrong with being classy?) and excludes so many families from meaningfully engaging Jewish tradition on a daily basis. So there is no need to further consider, discuss or condemn it any more than we already have… We have other gefilte fish to boil.
Participants must agree that day school education is a content-rich linchpin for the future of a viable Jewish community. (Summer camping is another…)
Participants must agree that despite all the hand-wringing, slickly produced brochures or Federation ads along Bathurst, day school education needs a good tweak, if not a solid kick in the pants.
So, let us call this imagined school BlueSky Jewish Academy.
Where would BJA be located?
Which aged-children would attend?
How much would it cost?
How would classes be organized?
What is the flow of a typical day?
What would its building look like? (Is this important?)
Should there be a flag flying from the roof?
What innovative practices would it adopt?
What aspects of existing school paradigms would it incorporate?
What would elements of the status quo would it dispense with altogether?
If there are more questions I did not ask, feel free to add them below.
Let the collective yiddishe köpfe begin to knock into each other and shake the earth with its profound wisdom and guilt-ridden indignation! I look forward to the ensuing hilarity.