Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Teaching, and the Road Towards Adulthood

One of the true blessings in my life is that I get to teach 7th grade Hebrew school here in Rochester. These students are preparing for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, which denotes their movement into young adulthood. These students are finding their place in the world, and discovering themselves in the process. I believe it’s my role to help them discover what they believe and who they are, apart from the many influences each student feels.

As such, my curriculum is a bit out of the ordinary. I focus on getting my students to think, to challenge the normal perspectives and find their own voices in the world. What’s more, I push the students to use these voices, to make themselves heard and felt. I challenge them to make a difference in the world, and to stand up for what they believe.

Both my years I’ve been fortunate to have students that have the potential to make a difference in the world. But in an age where apathy runs rampant, and where people are taught that it’s best to go along to get along, the key is to motivate these students to actually make a difference.

This year, I’ve been called upon to speak at the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs of my students, due to the recent passing of our beloved Rabbi. And while I mourn the loss of the Rabbi’s words to these young adults, the situation has provided me the opportunity to give each of the students one more message, hopefully some memorable words that can guide them as they do find their own identity.

To me, it’s all about these boys and girls filling their potential as men and women. Each of them truly has the ability to be special, and to make a difference in a world that needs difference makers. I’m trying to use the speeches to point that out to these remarkable individuals the potential they have, and to motivate them to use it.

In the end of the day, I am playing a minor role in the lives of these students, and I’m privileged to play any role in their development. But if, by some chance, I can use these parting words to help push them to reach their infinite potential, then I know that I, too, have made a real difference in the world today. And that is a privilege indeed.

Posted by Scottage at 1:20 AM / | |