Saturday, November 5, 2016

Torah Im Derech Eretz at Maimonides?

Yesterday I talked about the educational curriculum at the SAR Academy in the Bronx, NY, about how they have an actual methodology that approaches subjects rather than just grinding through texts with minimal explanation as is done in so many schools.

So it seems that the Maimonides School in Brookline, Boston works the same way.

Here's fifth grade Hebrew:

In fifth grade we continue the Chaverim Bivrit curriculum that we began in fourth grade. Depending on the level, students learn between 2-3 books in Chaverim Bivrit curriculum. In fifth grade, Ivrit is taught for four periods weekly. Students are asked to write paragraphs of greater complexity and length than in previous years, compose songs and poems, read and write newspaper “advertisements” and, of course, speak only in Hebrew. As in previous years, students read at home on a daily basis in order to practice their reading skills. Students have discussions about food and nutrition, hear stories about food and restaurants, and prepare menus for their class restaurant. In the restaurant, students actually order and serve foods as well as dine in the restaurant (all in Hebrew). This is an enjoyable activity that is remembered by Maimonides students for years. It leaves a joyful and satisfying “taste” of Hebrew language with them.

A living language just like in Horeb.

"We may therefore tabulate the general subjects of instruction for Jewish youth as follows:(I) Hebrew language.
Concurrently and as living languages at an early age along with general knowledge and development of the mind.
(3) Torah, Nevi'im and Kethuvim....."  Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb 552

Here's grade 5 Talmud at Maimonides:

...This curriculum includes an introduction to the ”Chain of Tradition” with great emphasis on the historical background of each of the periods leading up to and including the Talmudic period. Teachers explain key foundational concepts in Talmud study. Students learn and memorize selected mishnayot, and analyze them in terms of the historical elements and content. Students use the “Bonayich” website to further enhance their knowledge of the mishnayot and the historical background.

I'm still waiting for my introduction to the "Chain of Tradition." I have done my best to pick it up from books such as those of Rav Hirsch and Rabbi Miller. It was never explained to me in yeshiva. In my mind, such explanation is a necessity to working productively with the Talmud. What is Horeb if not an explanation of the Torah using text but arranged by subject. That is what young people need today. 

So hats off to you too Maimonides. 

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