HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


From the Desk of Bathea James, RAVSAK President

Dear Chevre,

I am still feeling the positive reverberations from the success of our January conference. The feedback we have received so far has been amazing. To those of you who were there, I extend my thanks for your participation; to those of you who were not able to attend, you were missed.

I am sure you will agree that the annual pilgrimage to the RAVSAK conference substantiates many of the reasons why stepping out of one’s daily environment makes professional development so necessary and worthwhile. Apart from the learning of new skills and techniques and the acquiring of knowledge, nothing beats the networking and support that our colleagues provide for us during our time together and afterwards. It gives us, as educational leaders, a few days to recharge our batteries and become energized and excited about what we do every day.

Likewise for our students, school trips provide them with many unique opportunities to evolve as learners, as Jews, and as independent thinkers:

  • Leaving the confines of the classroom, students engage in round-the-clock, hands-on learning. This learning comes not only in terms of subject/content knowledge, but life skills, decision-making, information synthesis, and social/emotional growth.
  • Research has shown that learning does not take place only in the classroom, but through real life exposure and practical application, which reinforce the many theoretical concepts our modern day students have to internalize.
  • For many students, these unique class trips are sometimes the only opportunity they will have to learn formally through travel. Those of us who take our students to Israel rejoice as all they have learned about Israel comes to life and they see first hand the relevance and reality of their many hours of learning Hebrew, Israeli geography and Jewish history.
  • Students who may not flourish in the classroom setting are given a new venue in which to demonstrate excellence. Many a time, students who are hesitant to speak in class find that they are eager and able to share in the less structured setting of a tour.
  • Class trips can be excellent motivators for good student behavior, increased academic achievement and provide incentives for higher learning.
  • While reinforcing the learning that has happened in the classroom, the activities on these trips also encourage bonding between student and teacher, and among the students themselves.

A large number of RAVSAK schools, both day schools and high schools, incorporate a student travel experience into their curricula. Among the myriad of places visited by RAVSAK students, Israel is- appropriately- the top destination, with students visiting New York, Washington D.C., Eastern Europe, and Los Angeles as well. I am sure the RAVSAK office would be able to provide you with a list of the schools participating in school trips if you would like further information.

In this issue of HaYidion, we investigate the nature of educational exploration. The articles delve into the who, what, where, when and why of student travel experiences from a number of perspectives. The central question is not “should we have a school trip?” but rather, “how do we make student travel a rich educational experience?” I encourage you to be in touch with the authors of these columns for more details.

To conclude: “The longest journey you will ever take is the eighteen inches from your head to your heart”. Thank you for all that you do to ensure that this journey happens every day.

L’Shalom,

Bathea James

Bathea James is the President of RAVSAK. Bathea can be reached at bathea@msn.com

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