JedCampNJNY: Self-Directed Professional Development

Click here to register for JedCampNJNY.

As readers of this blog know, I have been abuzz recently after chaperoning a student trip to Google, the Willy Wonka of modern business culture, where I saw first-hand their laid-back workplace atmosphere promoting self-directed learning. You can read a student perspective on this trip here in the latest issue of FrischBits, a student-produced newsletter which has been a shining example of the self-directed model.

While I sympathize with both sides of this issue, I ultimately lean towards a more teacher-directed approach in most high school and middle school classrooms although I try to incorporate student choice and personal autonomy whenever possible. My colleague and friend, Tikvah Wiener has published a thoughtful critique of my approach based on her experiences with the RealSchool model, and another dear friend Aaron Ross recently published his own response framing the issue as one not of WHETHER to promote self-directed learning but of WHEN to promote it. According to his thinking, for mature students in university and graduate school, self-directed learning should be the norm as they choose their own career path and learning experiences based on their passions. For younger students in high school and middle school, while plentiful opportunities for self-directed learning experiences should be available, the core curriculum should still be comprised of subjects and curriculum dictated by educators as students seek to expand their knowledge base in various subject areas both to help them decide on a future career and to give them a broad education and cultural literacy in the values that we hold dear.

One thing that Tikvah, Aaron, and I can all agree on is the importance of self-directed learning for mature learners to further their personal and professional growth. This is why we believe that, OK guys here's the commercial, the upcoming JedCampNJNY is an IDEAL opportunity for self-directed professional development for educators in Jewish day schools. As both Aaron and I have blogged in the past here and here, Jedcamp is a chance to get together with other teachers to discuss, present, and learn from each other about any issue in education that you are passionate about. There are no annoying keynotes (sorry but I find most conference keynotes to be so general, cliched, and self congratulatory that they are rarely useful), no packaged presentations, no scheduled workshops of any kind. Just the opportunity to schmooze and share. It is kind of like Google only without the scooters, game-rooms  and funky furniture.

So if you have not already done so, please register here for JedcampNJNY which is taking place in less than three weeks on Sunday, April 21 at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ. Tickets are going fast- last check only 58 tickets remained- so register soon for this wonderful opportunity for self-directed professional development.