Monday, January 23, 2012

Storahtelling & Conservative Principals' Council: Challenges & Inspirations

by Jake Goodman

This last week, I had the privilege of facilitating a 2-hour Storahtelling workshop with the Conservative Principals' Council (CPC) at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights, NY. The attendees were all principals or educational leaders in various settings, very experienced, knowledgeable and hungry for innovation - if it fit within their understandings of what is responsible Jewish education. I so respect them for their rigor and passion, and teaching Storahtelling's methodology to them was an exciting challenge because I was constantly asked to reflect upon Storahtelling's philosophy: why do we make certain choices? For us, what is the difference between translation and interpretation? Do we care at all about teaching values from our "style" of Jewish text study? If so, what? If so, how? How can our Maven Method be translated for a wide range of learners, from high school all the way down to kindergarten?

These questions were not easy to answer, but trying to do so was great fun! I really felt that the principals and I were engaged in an important conversation and, miraculously, we all seemed to be on the same page at the end, laughing, inspired by each other. For me, this was proof of Storahtelling's universality and power. The access this methodology creates is relevant and vital to Jews of all stripes and colors, to humans of all stripes of color - regardless of denomination, experience or preexisting content knowledge.

As a side note, it also reinforced for me how much I love being an educator - especially when the learners are unafraid to voice their concerns, challenges and curiosities.