A Day School Educator’s Confession

By Joshua Seth Ladon

What I miss most about working in a high school is the dynamism. It is addictive. On any given day, I would move from a vibrant morning minyan, where a student had taken on a new leadership role, leaving behind the shackles of peer pressure, and putting himself on display. Next, into a classroom discussion about the Hegelian influence on early Zionist thinkers, and then to the beit midrash where I flitted between havruta digging into early rabbinic texts, the students, breaking their teeth on the Hebrew, sticking with it, even though it is difficult and time consuming. Afterwards, I might have brainstormed, with a senior, for her college essay or met with a colleague as we think together about how to guide the knesset (student government) in serving their fellow students’ needs. I often mentioned to friends that my brain moved in so many different ways during the day – I loved it!

Teaching is a job that feels deeply important, urgent. When I think about education, I do not relate to it as the process in which I simply impart content. For me, the moment that epitomizes true learning, is when a student is able to read a text and then says what it means. This is not a simple thing to do. The student, that can, for a moment, recognize a separation between, themselves and knowledge in the world, and express what that text means (in any of the ways it may mean something), and not simply what they think about it, feels like a holy moment.

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