Einstein Academy: A model of what 21st century (Jewish) education could be

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

Our current educational model was developed during the Industrial Revolution, roughly 130 years ago, resembling an assembly line, with the goal of preparing students to work in factories. It was designed to create uniform students, each with nearly identical experiences and knowledge, with no regard for individual students’ needs of level of engagement. Students were expected to be consumers of material, passively taking in their learning along with everyone else, rather than being active producers, personalizing their learning and contributing to their learning.

Since then, numerous educators and thinkers have tried to create a shift, understanding that as our world changes, so, too, must our education. (Benjamin) Bloom’s taxonomy was originally created in 1956, with a revised version published in 2001, aimed at fostering higher-level thinking skills in our students.12 years ago, Ken Robinson’s video “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” went live and has since racked up over 17 million views. Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need-And What We Can Do About It came out in 2008 and continues to be an international bestseller, pointing to areas where the US falls behind in education and what can be done about it. Each of these contributions points to a need for more in our education system, a change in focus and direction. They point to the need for our students to be able to think and analyze and create, not recall and regurgitate (Google can do that better than any of us). They point to a need for change.

We have experienced first-hand this need for change. Mark was really challenged in school, completely unengaged, sleeping through many of his classes, and convinced he was dumb. Sarah is what would probably be considered a “success” of the school system, having taken numerous honors and Advanced Placement classes, graduating at the top of her class, scoring in the top 1% of all standardized tests, and gaining admission to some of the most prestigious colleges in the country. And, yet, both Mark and Sarah had the same realization when they got to college: the school system had failed them. Sarah was never truly challenged or engaged; she had just figured out the system, but she had failed to learn truly essential skills that would help her be successful in the future. Mark was lost in school, with no one taking the time to understand who he was as a learner and unlock that potential.

We know school has to change...but how?

Between the two of us, we have over 30 years of experience in the field of education. We share a passion for and commitment to doing what is best for students. We have spent years visiting schools around the country (and a few outside of the country) and talking to educators around the world about what works for today’s students, and we know that what is needed is a total redesign; what is needed is a 21st century school built for the 21st century student.

What if students were encouraged to ask questions and empowered to find their own answers? What if they knew they could make an impact today and not have to wait until they graduate or get older or get a certain job? What if they knew how unique they each were and were pushed each day by teachers who understood that? What is everyone in the community genuinely cared about one another? What if they genuinely loved coming to school each day?

We believe school should be a place that is fun and engages students, a place where they can tackle questions that matter to them and are empowered to make a difference. We believe students are individuals and need a place that recognizes, appreciates, and celebrates that, cultivating both academic and social emotional growth. And a place that prepares students for their world (not the world of 1790).

Einstein Academy was created with these questions and beliefs in mind.

Education in the United States is slowly undergoing a paradigm shift. There is a growing awareness that our students shouldn’t be left behind just because they also want a Jewish education. Families shouldn’t have to choose between an experience that truly prepares them for the 21st century...and an environment based on Jewish values and culture. They shouldn’t have to choose between an emphasis on strong academics….and social emotional growth. They shouldn’t have to choose between being successful in school...and being the best version of themselves.

At Einstein Academy, we are proud to be among leaders in that paradigm shift.

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