experiments, instruments & measurement book

God Talk

By Susie Tessel

Traditionally, talking about God whether in the classroom or from the pulpit has been a difficult subject to broach.  As a result this topic has been neglected or ignored.  Spirituality is very important, as the number of visits to ashrams has proven, among many other indexes.  Regardless, we as teachers have felt unsure about discussing God.

One of the many things I love about the concept and execution of Whole Person Learning is the insistence of including the concept of Believing along with what we want our learners to be able to Know, Do, and Belong.  We as Jews, have to include the concept of Believing in our curriculum.  In my monthly teachers’ Network, I inserted a component about which we explored an aspect of “God Talk.” with a variety of practical ideas to get our educators and their students thinking about God.  The more one confronts, ponders, and considers what one’s personal thoughts are about the concept of God, the more comfortable and open one is to the possibilities.

Our job is to provide opportunities for our learners to explore a variety of  “God Talk” experiences.  I introduced the first “God Talk” discussion in our monthly Network meeting on Parshat Noach.  In that week’s parsha, the Torah describes “God walked with Noach.” To me that notion resonated deeply with me.   I envisioned them walking hand and hand having a serious heart to heart about the state of mankind. But, that was my idea.  Others would no doubt have a very different take on it. Where did they go? What did they speak about?  If you could show God one thing what would it be?……I proposed that the educators around the room could have a Think/Write/Pair/Share or a Gallery Walk to get used to the idea of sharing…..and then perhaps write a journal entry to record their ideas.

I really begged the groups’ teachers to try this activity.  There was some discomfort, but I exacted promises to at least give it a go!!  Sadly, the next time we met, I was greeted by a downcast educator. Let’s call her Beth.  Beth said, I have fourth grade, and I thought they were too young….  But, I decided to try it any way….so, I asked my fourth grade where would you take God, and one girl said the Mall.  The Mall!!!!!!! She said indignantly!!  I set it up like you suggested, and this little girl came out with the mall. “   So, I said, well, what about the Mall did she want to show God?  Did you pursue her response with any probing questions?”  “No” she said, “I was so disgusted, I just dropped it.”  I stepped in and advised her to speak to this young lady privately next time, and see what she says.  I reminded her that this is a process, the more one thinks about the topic, the richer the answers will be.  The group probably never thought about God before in a directed manner.  Beth, went back, and the next month when I saw her, she arrived very early, and bounded into the room and said, “OMG, you were so right!! I asked the girl why she wanted to take God to a mall, and she said she wanted to show God the clothing bin to help poor people on the side.  So, I had her share her remark, and other kids started sharing what they would show God.  It was amazzzzing!!! “  I stopped her on the spot, and told her, I wanted her to share her story and her enthusiasm with our group.  After she shared her story, we all clapped.  Others shared their successes.  They described how some kids wanted to show God examples of something beautiful in Nature they were grateful for, others wanted to show God food shelters, or coat drives…..  They walked out saying- “I love this God Talk!!

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