Journal

Summary

Eight Biblical Interactive Learning Centers

Semadar (Ben-Zvi) Goldstein

“All children are gifted, it just takes some longer to open their presents.”

“Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll learn.”

In an age where microwaves prepare dinner in minutes, videos provide instant entertainment, and computers offer a gamut of recreational activities, classroom lectures and discussions are less appealing to the technologically advanced student of the nineties. Our task as educators therefore requires us to become more focused on entertainment and less on the written word.

A scintillating balance between entertainment and the classroom has been provided by Howard Gardner, an educational psychologist from Harvard University. Gardner explains in Frames of Mind, The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (New York, 1993), that learning can and should be more entertaining for students. Lecturing and writing, traditional methods of learning, embody 70% of classroom time. Accessing different learning styles creates a more stimulating classroom environment. Gardner categorizes eight different intelligences, or learning styles, in which a child’s highest intellectual ability may be challenged. The intelligences are linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, inter-personal, and intra-personal. An eighth intelligence, natural intelligence, was recently introduced (see: Susan Winebrenner, Teaching Kids With Learning Difficulties in the Regular Classroom).

After reviewing his literature, I found that Gardner’s learning centers can be applied to Bible study. If spatial learners build maps in order to learn world geography, why can’t they construct a map of Biblical Israel as written in the book of Joshua? If students who excel in inter-personal intelligence dramatize an event, why can’t they act out Hannah’s struggle with barrenness in the book of Samuel? Bodily - Kinesthetic learners can build models of the tribal camp order or the Tabernacle. Musical learners may create musical projects, such as songs, to any one of the poetic verses in Tanakh. Logical - Mathematical learners can add the number of soldiers, calculate currency collections or tribal counts. These are just a few ideas which can be established in an MI Theory based classroom to facilitate self-guided learning.

Most schools include different learning styles in after school activities, offering classes such as drama, music, and art as part of the curriculum. Teachers even include creative activities in the classroom, although not on a regular basis. Creative activities are great for children because more parts of the brain are stimulated. Unfortunately, these activities usually end in the older grades, or continue only in the science lab. Gardner’s work has both formalized and expanded innovative teaching methods, as well as given it an international stamp of approval.

My work at ATID aims to adapt Multiple Intelligence activities, [hereon referred to as MI], to the Bible classroom, specifically for junior high and high school. Hence, my title “Biblical Interactive Learning Centers.”

 

The main report describes the eight intelligences in detail, with suggested and implemented Bible based activities. A sample of MI activities for a junior high class learning the book of Samuel is enclosed below.

Linguistic Intelligence

Activity:

 

Verses:
1:1-20,
2:1-10

Take a character from the first few chapters of Samuel and write a story from that character’s perspective. i.e. Tell the story of Chapter 1 from Hannah’s point of view.

Record a journal. After every chapter, adapt a personality of one main character and rewrite the events and narrative from that character’s perspective. This is different from telling a story because it will continue throughout the book, or because the students can choose a different character every time.

Act as a reporter writing for the Shiloh Times and describe the events as if you were following the characters through their daily lives.

Additional Sources

Ariel, Yigal, Oz Melech on 1:6

Tractate Berahot 31b See Source Sheet A1

Purpose:

  • Creates strong empathy for the characters of Tanakh.
  • Incorporates text & commentaries through linguistic expression.
  • Reviews & deepens understanding of text.
  • Enhances familiarity with the text through

The greatest obstacle I encountered was the time needed to create the various displays. Possible solutions are included in the report, as well as personal and student goals which prove the benefits of implementing MI Theory in the Tanakh classroom.

Societies, both old and new, offers solutions to problems that arise. Technology and entertainment can stimulate but they also hinder. The goal of the Jewish educator is to focus on the natural learning style of each individual student and to incorporate stimulating forms of “entertainment” in the classroom. When the 90’s teacher walks into a classroom and tells the students to prepare their thinking gear, students will hopefully respond, “in which intelligence?”

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