Shortly before Pesach, my wife and I will celebrate the first birthday of a grandson whom we have yet to meet in person. Since his birth in New York City, during the early weeks of the pandemic (at a time when his father could not enter the hospital because of prevailing COVID-19 restrictions), we have watched his considerable growth via FaceTime. The availability of such technology is truly a gift.
Millennia ago, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) opined that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Though, occasionally, it might seem as if something is new, Kohelet maintained that the matter was recognized in times past but simply forgotten. To be sure, humankind acquires new knowledge. For example, while we know more about child development today than in former times, Koheleth might suggest that seeking and applying such knowledge is a contemporary expression of the ancient wisdom of the Book of Proverbs, "educate each child in their way."
The unlimited availability of information at the push of a button makes teaching and learning altogether different, today, than in the (ever more remote) 20th century. Education is not about mastery of a body of knowledge; it’s about processing, synthesizing and wisely applying abundantly available information. Project-based learning and collaborative problem solving are, appropriately, increasingly at the core of students’ educational experiences.