School Rabbi's Message
What is the goal of education? Is it to teach knowledge? To transmit values? Perhaps it is to develop character? I believe that education is in fact all of this and more.
In Sefer Mishlei (22:6) Shlomo HaMelech taught that:
חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר עַל פִּי דַרְכּוֹ גַּם כִּי יַזְקִין לֹא יָסוּר מִמֶּנָּה.
Educate the child in their own way that even when they grow old they will not turn from it.
When the 19th century pedagogue Friedrich Froebel coined the term “kindergarden” he sought to express the idea that education is a system of empowerment and self-understanding. Education, he believed, begins with the recognition that children have unique needs and capabilities.
It is interesting to think of the imagery of an educational institution as a “children garden”. There are two factors that affect the flourishing of a tree or flower to its full beauty and potential:
The most obvious is the external – the balance of conditions that facilitate growth, such as temperature, hydration and sunshine.
But the more important factor is the essential nature contained in the seed itself. Each seed is embedded with nascent beauty and greatness just waiting to be revealed. The potential to grow a garden is contained in the potential of each and every tiny seed. The gardener must be competent and careful to adapt the external conditions in order to draw out the unique essential traits of the particular seed so that it grows to its full beauty and potential.
Just like an agricultural garden, the goal of an educational institution is to create conditions that support the realization of the unique potential of each and every student. The educator’s goal is to empower the student to maximize their innate potential. The Hebrew word for education – חינוך – comes from the word חן, which means inner beauty and charm. Chinuch is an exercise in drawing-out our inner beauty and potential.
At Hebrew Academy we aspire to draw-out students’ full potential through excellence in Jewish and general studies, and a Judaism engaged with the contemporary world.
We welcome you to the Hebrew Academy garden!
Rabbi Ari Faust