Finding modern educational trends in the Haggadah

  • RabbiRabinowitz
Pesach is one of the highlights of the Jewish calendar. One of the main features of this festival is the Seder and its practices.

These come down to customs, going back many centuries, which are often seen merely as rituals that form part of our Jewish heritage. A deeper understanding of the Seder night reveals a startling similarity with current thinking regarding what is considered to be meaningful education.

John Stocks, executive director of the National Education Association in the US, speaks to the needs and challenges of skills required for the 21st century by calling on educators to impart the “four CS” as educational strategies in their classrooms. These are: Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity.

They have superseded the priority given to mastering the so-called three Rs, which are Reading, Writing and ’Rithmetic.

On reflection, one can see that many of the requirements of the Seder mirror the ideas embodied in the four Cs.

Critical thinking is possibly the very essence of the Haggadah. The discussions and debates recalled in the Haggadah are there to introduce and stimulate our own questions and dialogues into the evening.

In a report titled “Are they really ready to work?” by J. Casner-Lotto et al, employers note that oral and written communication are among the top four skills required today. The Haggadah certainly encourages this. As we sit around the table, face to face, we speak to each other, discussing and motivating our personal understanding of the Laws of Pesach.

In previous generations, many significant achievements were accomplished by individuals. Today we acknowledge the achievement of companies. Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are just some examples of the many companies leading the way forward in technology.

It bears mentioning that it’s the teams in these companies who are responsible for new innovations. Teams require a diverse approach when seeking to develop something new. The Seder brings together people from different backgrounds. We sit together and each person brings their own individual and unique energy to the table. Here we have collaboration.

Robert Sternberg of Tufts University says: “Successful individuals are those who have creative skills.” Having children look for the Afikoman at the end of the Seder meal is a very creative method of keeping the children engaged through the Seder evening.

Herein lies a new challenge for our generation. Our generation knows all too well that we need to be far more creative in making the Seder meaningful and engaging, so that it will be treasured and handed down to future generations. What are you doing to make it more creative?


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