The Importance of Values
As did our predecessor, Janusz Korczak, we believe that empathy and a sense of self-worth are as important as math and language skills. Instilling values in our children has long been a part of the Jewish tradition.
“Education that is merely concerned with the transmission of information is doomed to failure. It must serve the greater and more noble purpose of cultivating the student’s moral character."
Rebbe Menachem Schneerson
"If the world will ever be redeemed, it will be through the virtues of children."
“When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel
"The world exists only because of the innocent breath of school-children."
“The highest form of wisdom is kindness.”
Respect for children and admiration for kindness are woven into Jewish culture. All education can benefit from the influence of values. Judaism is more than a faith- it is a way of living kindly, intentionally and with respect for the world. The Jewish values that guide the Kaiser Method ensure that everything we do, from the way we set-up a classroom to the content we teach, is for the benefit of the whole child; their academic adeptness as well as their humanity.
Teaching With Intent
Much of the K-Way pedagogy focuses on teaching with intent. Children are innately curious; they will learn with or without the aid of a teacher. What then is the role of the educator? Children will learn no matter what; our job is to think intently about what we expose our children to. Rather than focusing on how much we can teach children we should be focusing on what we teach children. What secret messages are we sending our children? What ideas, biases, and values are hidden in our curricula? In our endeavor to prepare young children for kindergarten and elementary school we forget that we are not just filling their heads with new information, we are shaping their values, beliefs, and characters.
The following is an excerpt of a letter written by a Holocaust survivor to educators, published in “Teacher and Child” by Dr. Haim Ginott, child psychologist and author:
“I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates.
So, I am suspicious of education.
My request is:
Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.”
When designing this pedagogy we thought intently about what we want children to experience while in our school. We know that children do not learn how to read by coloring worksheets of the alphabet. They learn to read by being exposed to a print rich environment and having meaningful conversations with adults and peers. Educators do not need to make children sing their ABCs every day or practice sight words during circle time. What educators need to do is set-up their learning environments with intent; to think about what they want children to know, what is relative to their lives. The K-Way classroom structure has been designed to reflect the lives of the children and offer an environment in which the children can develop skills and acquire knowledge that is beneficial to them at this time in their lives. Educators implementing the K-Way are asked to think deeply about the materials they offer the children, the activities they engage in and the lessons they teach; do they serve to make their children more human?