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FOCUS ON STUDIES OF RELIGION: BJE - NSW BOARD OF JEWISH EDUCATION

BJE - NSW Board of Jewish Education, also known as BJE, is situated at Roscoe St, Bondi Beach. BJE offers STUDENT STUDY VISITS as well as PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSES on Judaism aligned with Board of Studies Syllabus learning areas.

For Students:

BJE can arrange visits to The Great Synagogue, The Central Synagogue, and The Sydney Jewish Museum and also hold workshops at BJE in Roscoe St. These include DVD presentations, lectures, discussions, and other activities.  The presentations for HSC students focus on topics in Studies of Religion. Study visits are tailored to the specific needs of each school. BJE also arranges visits to schools. 

For Teachers:

Professional Development courses aim to support teachers and religious education coordinators to prepare students who are completing the Studies of Religion or Society and Culture courses. In-service days are planned throughout the year. Topics include:

• Sacred Texts and Writings
• Principal Beliefs
• Ethics
• Significant Practices and Observances
• Religion and Non Religion
• Core Ethical Teachings
• Origins of Judaism
• Foundation Studies
• Significant People 

SECONDARY SCHOOL VISITS

Study visits for secondary schools can be either

(i) the school travelling by bus to BJE or
(ii) staff from BJE visiting the school 

(i) An example of a typical study visit to BJE:

10:00am
Arrive at and tour The Central Synagogue, Bon Accord Ave, Bondi Junction
10:00 - 10.15am
Travel to and arrive at BJE, 56 Roscoe St, Bondi Beach
10:15 - 10.30am
Morning Tea (provided)
10:30 - 11.30am
Presentation on “Life as a Jew in Australia” or other topic by by a BJE selected presenter.
1:30 - 12.30pm
Discuss “Jewish Ethics”, “Rites” or other content area related to Judaism in the BOS Syllabus
12:30 - 12.45pm
Lunch
12:45 - 1.30pm
Travel to the Sydney Jewish Museum, corner Darlinghurst Rd and Burton St, Darlinghurst
1:30 - 3.30pm
Guided tour of Sydney Jewish Museum

This is only a suggested program and can be varied according to each school’s needs.

(ii) School Presentations

A typical visit to a secondary school consists of a sixty-minute presentation. The topics are related to the Stage 6 Studies of Religion Syllabus or any other topic relevant to students needs. Visits are also made to other year levels, not only Stage 6.  Following the lesson presentation and discussion, the students are left with printed notes for further study.
 
A Rabbi or other qualified presenter presents lessons for secondary school students.
Visits are also arranged for non-Jewish teachers to visit Jewish schools for presentations from the Christian perspective. The topics presented usually are related directly to the Studies of Religion syllabus.

Values and Attitudes

Reference to the BOS Studies of Religion Stage 6 draft syllabus, 2004 states:
“Students will value and appreciate:

  • ethical and socially responsible behaviours which are brought about through empathy for and acceptance of religious diversity
  • fundamental rights of religious believers, rules and laws that promote fairness, justice and equality in society.”

Costa and Kallick (Habits of Mind:A Developmental Series, 2000) emphasize, amongst others things, that in order to develop a thought-full learning community there is a need to develop habits of mind which can shape the values and attitudes Stage Six students take into their Studies of Religion lessons and what they take from the lessons, such as:

  • listening to others - with understanding and empathy
  • responding with wonderment and awe
  • thinking about thinking (metacognition)
  • applying past knowledge to new situations
  • remaining open to continuous learning

Participation in such programs as Living in Harmony and incorporating these Habits of Mind, go a long way to enabling students to clarify their values and attitudes, as well as gaining deeper learning experiences related to the challenging issues both within and amongst religions. These are local, national and international needs. Daily we are reminded about the importance of inter-faith understanding and appreciation as a way of helping us all to live in harmony in our own country.

Deepening Learning Experiences

Much is stated about the importance of deepening students learning experiences in the various KLA’s. However, little is written about deepening the learning experiences of Studies of Religion students. One such avenue to do this is through the Monash University project known as PEEL. This stands for “Project for Enhancing Effective Learning”. Through the incorporation of PEEL strategies into Studies of Religion lessons students will have deeper learning and understanding of the focus topics. There are twelve PEEL principles. Four of the twelve PEEL principles which have close relevance to Studies of Religion are:

  1. Provide students with opportunities for choice and independent decision making
  2. Promote talk amongst students which is exploratory, tentative and hypothetical
  3. Encourage students to listen seriously to other students’ questions and comments
  4. Use a wide variety of intellectually challenging teaching procedures.

The most serious outcome of education is to enhance and improve learning outcomes. The incorporation of PEEL strategies in the religious education classroom will go a long way towards achieving this. Involvement in programs such as those offered by the NSW Board of Jewish Education will certainly give students deeper learning opportunities.

Comments

Getting feedback is an important component of any program. It enables reflection and improvements to be made. A statement made by a Dean of Studies from one of the schools we visited was “guest speakers such as Rabbi Paul build religious harmony and help develop in students a better understanding and appreciation of other major world religions to their own. This can only augur well as they prepare to make a valuable contribution in Australia’s culture and religious landscape”. Just about all comments received were very encouraging.  For example, a student said, the presentation “was interesting and we have learned much about the lives of Jewish people”. Another comment was, “100% - fantastic presentation and kept the entire audience involved and interested”.

BJE offers programs for Studies of Religion students which go a long way to helping this happen.

For further information about the BJE 2006 Studies of Religion program,
please contact:

Mrs Shula Jaffe-Krimhand,
Outreach Program Coordinator, BJE,
56 Roscoe St, Bondi Beach 2026
Ph: (02) 9365 7900(02) 9365 7900 or email administration@bje.nsw.edu.au 
or visit the website www.bje.org.au

 

INTERFAITH LESSONS ON JUDAISM FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

We strive to increase community harmony by educating primary school students of different denominations about the Jewish faith.
 
The program is being implemented by school visits which mainly cover the topics of Passover, Chanukah and Sabbath. However, we will tailor the presentations to suit individual school requirements.

The lessons are of about 45 minute duration and are integrated with HSIE topics and will complement your Religious Education program. They are presented by a trained Jewish primary school teacher. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for your students and teachers to participate in an interfaith program.




© Chris Curran, Inter-Faith Consultant for BJE, April 2006



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