Blessing after the Shema: A Lesson in Education
“And His words are alive and enduring; faithful and pleasant”. This phrase can provide us with a fundamental key to education. “Alive and enduring”-We want our teachings to be lasting; we want them to make a deep impression on our children and students. For our words to remain strong and not blur when they are faced with the myriads of other voices out there, our words need to be alive.
The lessons we convey must be vibrant with passion, the manner in which we teach must be a reflection of the fire burning inside of us.
Torah cannot be taught to endure unless it is dynamic and bursting with life.
“Faithful and pleasant”- Sometimes, teachers or parents believe that to render a lesson palatable, you have to make it ‘cute’. You have to embellish a story, add a few fluffy adjectives- or worse; somewhat distort the truth and tie everything up with a big shiny ribbon in order to ‘sell it’.
The problem with this is that children have radars that detect hypocrisy and inconsistencies. Instead of making those teachings pleasant, it will leave a bitter taste in their mouths. But even more than that, it will lead them to doubt everything they have ever been taught.
When we are responsible for the transmission of Torah, it is imperative that our words express the Truth of Torah. Everything we say must be consistent with previous knowledge. If there is a discrepancy in what our pupils know, we must identify it and rectify it. We, as parents and teachers must also be worthy of our children’s trust. Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest teacher of all times is recognized as “Ne’eman”, faithful.
Truth, honesty and reliability in the way we teach, in the information we are presenting and most importantly in who we are as human beings, is what will make the learning experience pleasant and desirable.