The Jewish Class Room of the Future

The world around us is changing so much faster than we ever thought possible. IBM states that every day, there are more than two quintillion (a million raised to the fifth power) data bytes created, and more than 90 percent of that data was created during the last two years! Just imagine…

And whether you like it or not, technology has become a part of all the things we do, be it in our communication or how we engage in business or politics. Youth nowadays grow up and go to school in a digital world, and teachers and school administrators have no other choice but to adapt to evolving tools and teaching methods. Digital engagement is required, and today’s children are expecting creativity and customization in their classrooms.

The classroom of the future may very well be filled with interactive tablets, 3-D animation models, colorful graphics, and interfaces that will be turning learning into something like a game, something students are already used to, so they love to learn and will get home raving about it. When they explore and study the Beit HaMikdash construction, the students can virtually explore and wander through a 3-D model of the construction and learn also how it must have been living in the days of their ancestors. Unrealistic? Well, many experts say this is likely not far off. If today, most MBA diplomas are earned through online MBA courses that use state-of-the-art technology and have become pretty affordable, you can bet other educational resources will follow suit.

And it’s not only about technology. So let’s see: what will the Jewish classroom of the future be like?

Critical Thinking and Life Skills

Well, the courses will be a lot more focusing on real-world issues and skills such as a healthy lifestyle, entrepreneurism, money management, creative thinking, and socializing. All these topics are sure to be part of the future core curriculum. At the Washington D.C. Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center, there is already a strong focus on children solving problems on their own, with of course decent guidance.

Children must learn how to take actions of positive change that only they themselves are responsible for. Children need to learn early (already at the age of two or three) that they can have the power to bring about a change and that they are capable of making a difference in their daily lives. They need to learn different ways to find solutions until they’ve got it right. 3-D printers can help very well in many situations. When children come up with new creations or solutions, they now can get immediate feedback and support for their solutions and ideas from the 3-D machine.  We must present students questions, not answers, They need to learn how to solve problems through research and come up with responses.

Obstacles and Opportunities

Most probably, Jewish education subjects will lag behind topics of secular learning. The reason is that many Orthodox Jewish community members have very strong hesitations about and objection against technology in general. A lot of people are scared by technology they can’t understand. They often equate all sorts of technology with the bad things of the online world and Internet.

To that comes also that the cost issue might prevent many Jewish schools from getting ahead in time. So here is an important role for Jewish philanthropies. The introduction of technology in Jewish education should be driven and promoted by persons and organizations who understand the importance and relevance, and who are willing to back these developments. Also, clergy must be involved and get acquainted with modern pedagogy so they’ll be able to support educational initiatives and efforts, and teachers will absolutely have to embrace the future and the possibilities that new technology presents. We should not just wait for the next generation of teachers to rise to new education option, and much can and should be done to stimulate current educators to embrace and adapt to the new world.