Where Camp Style Tefillot and The Cheider Style Meet
The best interaction engagement strategy for students in Tefilla, is getting them to sing. Studies have shown the clear educational benefits of teaching through song. For example, in a university level class, there are universities that, in fact, use science songs as an effective teaching tool – read more in the following article. David Craft, a seasoned educator who uses songs to teach math, science and other mainstream subjects, told “Education World”, an online educational blog, the following: “Music is a powerful medium to help kids see themselves as who they are and who they can be,”. In Tefilla, this pedagogical method is heightened and presenting a platform of song for Tefilla will help unleash the passion, connection and even memorization of Tefilla, as presented In my article, The Carlebach Revolution.
What songs should you incorporate? Mainly, songs that are catchy, easy to teach and especially songs that are well known to the students already.
The classic Jewish school model instructed primary Jewish sources using melodies, tunes and chants. Even until this very day, many Jewish schools, both “classic” and more modern, incorporate the te’amim, or chants and tunes, as a mainstream teaching tool for engaging students in learning Torah, Tanach, Mishna and Talmud. The result? Many, if not most, of the students memorized the texts and it became part of their educational makeup and culture. These tunes often transfer into the Tefillot and learning style in their adulthood as well.
A final point is the level of satisfaction for students. I recently have been coaching an educator in Florida about engaging his grade 8 class in their school Tefilla. One of the challenges was the lack of motivation. He reached out to the students to inquire where their resistance was coming from and the students responded that in school the Tefilla is “boring”, whereas their camp Tefilla was exciting and fun. After receiving this information I was delighted and not at all surprise, and immediately suggested bringing the camp style of Tefilla into the classroom. Though counterintuitive, it is a sound approach, and one that will sharply increase student satisfaction, and therefore motivation.
Why not come back full circle to the classically effective model of teaching for Tefilla, and by extension for the rest of the Jewish studies disciplines? Through song we create an exciting environment, a platform for memorization and reading the words out loud and lower the resistance from students who are otherwise unmotivated in Tefilla engagement. Let’s bring back the song!