Family & Education

Don’t forget the brighter moments

The use of technology during lockdown has thrown up some good ideas for the future


As the vaccination process rolls out across the country, we hope that we are beginning to see light at the end of this dark tunnel. There will no doubt be more bumps on the road ahead. However, it is perhaps time for us to begin looking ahead with aspirations and plans for life after Covid.

It will not be easy and, as recent JPR research has shown, the financial challenges for schools look immense. However, we hope that as schools reopen, parents will once again support them as they prioritise Jewish education.

During the darkest times of this pandemic, we have seen some exceptional moments of brightness as teachers from across the country have used innovative methods to educate and enthuse their students. Not all of these methods have worked and there have been times when everyone has felt frustrated at the lack of face to face teaching.

However, there have also been times when the use of remote technology has engaged our children and enabled collaboration between schools in ways not seen before.

Whether it is early years children sharing videos of the weekly parashah, grandparents around the world being able to watch their grandchildren’s school play, or the Unite with Light event that brought thousands of children together to celebrate Chanukah —there have been some incredible educational moments and we now need to build on these and ensure they become the foundation stones for our future.

We must consider the balance between knowledge-based, skill-based and motivational learning. Each of these plays a critical part in the development of our children. However, as we are now demonstrating, they can be delivered in a variety of ways.

It cannot be an all-or-nothing approach and the importance of the teacher delivering face-to-face education cannot be understated. However, we need to expand our portfolio of pedagogic tools and ensure the best balance of these methodologies in order to engage and enthuse children, no matter what their preferred learning style.

Ideas such as university-style lectures from subject specialists, streaming to multiple classes facilitated by teachers in the classroom, could enable a huge leap in the educational prospects of larger groups of students.

Talk to any teacher and you will hear a plethora of ideas about utilising the tools and pedagogic techniques they have developed over the past year.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of lockdown has been the role of parents in the education of their children. As frustrating as it may have been to have children marooned at home, we have certainly seen the pendulum shift to see every aspect of education delivered at home and it has reminded us of the critical role that parents play.

There is good foundation for the biblical imperative to teach one’s children, as the parent–child bond is strengthened immeasurably through shared learning. These moments can become lifelong lessons that the child will cherish and reflect on as they grow to adulthood and, in turn, as parents take a lead in educating their own children.

It is time to reestablish and protect the educational partnership of parent/teacher/child.

We must ensure that the next chapter is an exciting one and one that will envision and incentivise school leaders.

PaJeS has started the conversation and will continue to work with schools and other partners to try to learn from the past and build on the best of the innovation to create an ever more relevant and effective educational provision for our students.

Rabbi Meyer is executive director of PaJeS

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