Micol Zimmerman Burkeman
“Adult life is filled with pressure and deadlines. To create the space for imagination, dreaming, and insight, it is your solemn duty to master the discipline of playing.”
-Keith Sawyer, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity
On December 4, 2018, over 35 Jewish educators across the Boston area came together to learn, connect and most importantly, to play. The Experiential Jewish Education Network, a professional learning network dedicated to increasing the impact and unlocking the potential of Jewish educators, convened a diverse and talented group of educators for their workshop, "The Power of Play: Using Play to Increase our Creativity and Engage our Learners."
Led by EJE Network Director and RHSOE alumna Micol Zimmerman Burkeman, the day started with an interactive presentation on the impact of play on creativity and a series of games and creativity exercises that helped participants channel a playful mindset and understand the inextricable connection between play and creative capacity.
The day of play continued with an interactive keynote by Dr. Marina Umaschi Bers, Author and Professor at Tufts University, who shared her research on the design and study of innovative learning technologies to promote children’s positive development. She also shared ideas from her book, Coding as a Playground, where she explores coding for children as a developmental playground. Dr. Bers illustrated the differences between approaching play in a playpen versus a playground and the respective effects on the learner's development of curiosity, experimentation and creativity. Participants were able to explore the two learning environments she created, the ScratchJr programming language and the KIBO robotics kit, and ways they could be used in Jewish education. A few selected participants even had the chance to program a robot to dance the hokey pokey!
Participants ended the day at the Boston Children's Museum, experiencing the unique opportunity to see play in action. They toured the museum's exhibits, exploring the creation and facilitation of successful play spaces and participated in guided play activities facilitated by members of their education team, learning new ways to effectively incorporate play into learning experiences.
The poet and essayist Diane Ackerman once said, "Play is our brain's favorite way of learning." This was confirmed during this exceptional and impactful day of play and learning. This group of educators learned that the colleagues that play together, stay creative together!
The Experiential Jewish Education Network increases the impact and unlocks the potential of Jewish educators. We create opportunities for learning, connection and collaboration that strengthen the skills and networks of our members and connect them to the best practices and ideas in the field. Together we work to make Jewish learning and living transformative, inspiring and meaningful.
The work of the EJE Network is made possible by the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, and through the support, guidance, and thought-leadership given by our institutional partners, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, The Jewish Theological Seminary and Yeshiva University.