How To Teach The Torah (Episode 3)

EPISODE 3 of 4: Curriculum By Conversation

This week (June 16) on Shabbat Night Live, school is not what you think it is, and neither is homeschooling!

In this episode, Kraig and Anne Elliott explain how to make the most of your children’s education — in far less time per day than you might think — and why having a conversation with your kids is the best way to teach.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Why have numerous educational innovations in recent decades – homeschooling, charter schools, asynchronous online learning – failed to cohere into a satisfying standard for most parents who seek proper schooling for their children? Are biblical- or Torah-based curricula sufficient to counteract the relativism and sexualization of children that have become entrenched in most public schools?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Despite the historical reputation of the “one-room schoolhouse” as an inferior model, its recent repurposing as the “microschool” purports to offer an affordable, constructivist dynamic of hybrid and real-time learning for today’s young learners. How could its flexible schedules and lack of age restrictions be further enhanced by curricular programs that are grounded in scripture to combat the politicization of today’s classrooms?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how likely is a rediscovery of unstructured learning to provide enhancement of education for all age levels through the mentoring of beginners by advanced students? Is this practice vulnerable to loss of a valuable resource like time through vapid, endless discussion, or could it potentially enrich both learning and morale by removing the stigma of age-based grade levels and false distinctions of students’ “falling behind”? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How has the reflex toward homeschooling ironically served to remind the general public of the still-controversial adage that the most important life lessons are “learned at home”? How do various overlooked passages in texts like Deuteronomy and Proverbs underscore the need for engagement between parents and children for enculturation and formation of a faith-based intellect?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how does Ephesians 4:11 serve as a reminder of the importance of education as part of YeHoVaH’s plan for our individual apostolic work during our lives? How is its reference to teachers further enhanced in verse 14 by its warning against children being misled “by the trickery of men,” whether in ministry or through those who would trivialize the educational endeavor through false teaching or power-seeking?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) How does today’s reflex toward faith-based education differ from previous efforts in times of excessive politicization, such as the founding of Great Books programs in liberal arts colleges in the 1990s, many of which were sponsored by major denominations? Will current endeavors also be marginalized or dismissed as reactionary and impractical, or will they inspire a developing trend?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Similarly, how might this earlier development be likened to the experience of the younger Hebrews, who, having been brought to the Promised Land, then faced the prospect of settling, civilizing, and cultivating it? Is today’s generation of proactive educators like that of Joshua’s followers?  If so, how might they prevent the decadence of their successors, who were castigated in the Book of Judges?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) Why have such factors as the time-efficiency and personalized potential of homeschooling and asynchronous learning been prevented from development by an adherence to the 9-month agrarian calendar that still dominates primary, secondary, and higher education? What are some examples of questionable bureaucratic interests or influences that continue to confound ongoing efforts of reform?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) How has the constant updating and revision of curricula that is made possible by the online environment not only transcended the limitations of print culture, but also that of administrative agendas and their resistance to change? How might this contemporary factor provide an unexpected parallel with the Hebrew ethos of fostering a constant, interactive practice of learning between parents and children?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Similarly, how is this ancient example poised for rediscovery in the near future thanks to geopolitical and infrastructural changes that have occurred since the millennium? If, as recent commentators have said, we now inhabit a leaderless, multipolar, and digital-based world order that is largely governed by technology companies, how has the struggle for control of our children’s education escalated to the scriptural perspective of a battle between good and evil?

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