Focus on the Future: Jewish Education Unbound

by Deborah Nagler

When Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, the clarion call of the shofar brought down its walls. For Joshua, this was a pivotal conquest in his campaign to establish a Jewish homeland in Canaan. In like fashion, the future of Jewish education will depend upon our ability to bring down the walls or boundaries that have defined its institutions, classrooms, and curricula in the twentieth century. Against the backdrop of globalism, technological development, social change, and economic instability, only a plastic and easily permeable system will give us the tools to engage and educate the twenty-first century Jewish learner.

On an institutional level, this means that schooling will not necessarily take place only in schools. Online learning will continue to filter down into Jewish high schools and elementary schools, as it has in the public school sector. Hybrid formats, combining computer-based learning with face-to-face classrooms, will become more common. Informal or experiential education increasingly will combine with formal education, bringing the motivational and immersive strengths of camping to year-round programs. Further, creative partnerships between institutions will allow for the sharing of resources in what is likely to be an environment of ongoing fiscal challenge. Because technology has removed geographic barriers, partnering institutions will be found anywhere in the country and in the world.

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