Thursday, March 21, 2013

Students and Seder

Every good teacher knows that each student comes with his or her own learning style; the teacher’s job is to find ways to reach a classroom full of different learners.    Some of us learn aurally, some visually.  Some respond best to music; others gather information best through words or mathematical patterns.  Some learn well in groups, others on their own.  Some can only learn if they are sitting still in a quiet environment, others cannot learn unless they are constantly stimulated and moving.

Our tradition recognizes this reality, first and foremost, in the Pesach seder.  The genius of the seder is that it presents its core lesson—the ever-new journey from narrowness and bondage towards liberation—in so many different ways.  We tell the story through words and singing, games and pictures, numerical patterns (four glasses, four questions, four children, “who knows one?”) and, of course, symbolic foods.  Over the course of the night, we are both raucous and reflective, serious and celebratory.

My favorite section of the seder is the parable of the four children: wise, wicked, simple, and unable to ask.  We recount the miracle of the passage to freedom for each of these children in a way that is designed to reach and respond to that child’s particular attitude and abilities. 

Of course each of us contains all four children.  We are all, at times, wise and wicked, and simple, and inarticulate.  This is the nature of human life.

So I am wishing you all a wonderful Pesach celebration.  May you hear the story anew this year, in a way that challenges your mind, touches your heart, and moves your soul.

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