Jewish Teen Education by the Hour
How much time is too much?
How many hours does it take to become knowledgeable about something?
I know, it’s a very broad question….but try to humor me. Your task is to become more learned about Judaism…..to become literate.
How many hours would you need to spend?
Okay, got it?
For comparison’s sake, students spend on average, 181 days per year in a K – 12 school environment, which translates into approximately 900 or so hours per year.
Many people don’t even think this is enough, especially when compared with the more rigorous school schedules of other countries. (And we know the U.S. is continuing to lose ground in the education of our youth).
Hourly disputes aside, no one would say that at the end of high school, one’s education is complete if mastery of a subject area is the goal.
Yet, (you know where I’m going with this), at the end of just few short years in Hebrew school, at what amounts to a paltry number of hours, parents and students are calling it quits. (This post is not directed at teens enrolled in a Jewish day school).
Think about it…..if you’ve been to college and are reading this….how many “credit” hours did it take as an undergrad to major in something? And if you added all the studying to those credit hours, what number would be your total?
More importantly, as a result, if you had to rate your knowledge about the subject, what score would you give yourself on a scale of 1 to 10?
(I’d love to read your comments on this).
When I googled the topic online, wiki answers provided me with this clarification of my question: “How many hours in your major do you need to graduate from college?” and generalized (though varying from institution to institution) that between 30 and 40 credit hours suffice for a major, with general agreement that each credit hour represents at least 15 hours of class time (exclusive of studying time).
So, back to Jewish teens and post B’nai Mitzvah education.
How many hours do you think teens should devote to learning about their heritage, language, culture, history?
Remember, these are the years when critical thinking kicks in…and teens can begin to wrestle with beliefs, tradition and change.
So, how much time in total per year?
How about in aggregate, from between ages 13 – 18?
So, in all, how much time on the clock does the average Jewish teen spend on learning about Judaism?
I think the answer would astound you…..it shocks me.
In the best case scenario, where teens attend a Jewish educational program at least once a week, the time they spend watching TV is more than twice the amount of time spent learning about Judaism.
That’s the best case–and kudos to the parents and teens who are at least making that choice.
What does this say about the teens who are in monthly programs? Or those who are not participating in any learning during the academic year?
Malcolm Gladwell aside, we don’t need to create 10,000-hour experts, but teens wouldn’t even rate in any bare minimum category with the limited hours that are devoted to Jewish learning.
Years ago, a teacher I worked with said that parents were only interested in (this will sound dated) “Kodak Judaism”. When I looked puzzled she said “They’re only interested in exposure…as long as their teens are exposed to Judaism, that seems to be enough for them.”
Right about now, you might be thinking that immersive experiences offer the perfect answer…after all teens are living Judaism non-stop for hours on end in a Jewish summer camp.
The problem is, our teens are Jewish all year-long, not just in summer. Otherwise we’re perpetuating our own pathetic version of the well-worn campaign “What happens in Jewish summer camp, stays in Jewish summer camp”.
Somewhere, between exposure and 10,000 lies a reachable goal. We need to get there.