Shavuot Thinking: Challenges in Chinuch

By Dena Schwartz

A major current challenge with chinuch in Bnei Akiva is the fact that Jewish education in schools is becoming more informal. While a creative, innovative and more informal educational style is arguably the best route for Jewish education, this has become too similar to what we do at BA. It means that when we run a more formal activity, our chanichim are often switched off as they see no difference between informal Jewish education in Bnei Akiva and in school. This also does a disservice to our chanichim who have come to learn in an atmosphere that is less formal than school.

Therefore, it’s now become more important than ever to find new and innovative ways to educate our chanichim in order to retain our unique brand of chinuch. On the converse, while we our always infusing our tochniot with chinuch, how much of this is retained? How many tochniot can we look back on and explain out what we learnt? This too calls upon us to keep innovating.

As a movement that, by virtue of its nature, is always moving, we want to find the balance between bringing brand new ideas and using chinuch methods that have already been proven to work. However, too many times I’ve seen people push for change and new ideas only for them to be met with reluctance and cynicism. In order for Bnei Akiva to nurture a culture of innovation and change, this can no longer go on. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that roles in the movement are short-term positions. While I’m not saying that this is the right or wrong way for these jobs to run, it still presents a challenge in this regard. When that person is replaced a year later, they can revert to the old process seamlessly. This is the case regardless of if it’s madrich on Aleph Machane or Mazkir. As the world is quickly changing around us, we need to react to this sooner than ever so that Bnei Akiva can keep advancing and actualising our ideals.

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