In Rabbinic texts, we often read that
students sat “at the feet of their teacher.” We understand this posture to mean that the model of study was small group learning, where one rabbi worked with only a few students and they studied wherever it was convenient to learn: perhaps in the home of the rabbi or even alongside the road. Given what academic research indicates about the importance of low student-teacher ratios and student achievement, it is no real surprise that this model was
selected by our sages to continue the chain of Jewish transmission.
As we approach the coming school year, we are excited to offer a pilot program for Hebrew learning to our Hebrew school students. The model we envision sounds very
similar to that of our sages: small groups of students with one teacher in areas and times that are convenient. For example, perhaps there are four third graders who all attend the same elementary school and Mondays are better for them to study Hebrew than our current Wednesday model. We would work to find a teacher who can commit to working with these students for the year in a location near their homes.
There are several synagogue schools around the country that have completely shifted their Hebrew education model to small group learning. I spoke recently with a
rabbi at a synagogue that switched their model of Hebrew instruction three years ago and they have been thrilled with how much better their students learn to read Hebrew in small groups.
Given that we have heard from many parents how only having one option for Hebrew instruction is challenging for busy families and how we know most students do not learn Hebrew well in a large classroom environment, we are very excited to experiment with this new model this coming year. We will continue to hold Hebrew on Wednesday while we experiment with a few of these small Hebrew groups around the Denver area. If you have a child who is interested in participating in this pilot
program for the coming school year, please click HERE and fill out the form ASAP.