The other day in Beit Nitzanim, we introduced one of our boys who enjoys working with numbers to the Jewish concept of gematria. Gematria is the study of the mathematical value of Hebrew words. Each Hebrew letter corresponds to a different number, such that every Hebrew word has a different mathematical “value”. Rabbis long ago used these numbers to compare the meaning of different words and ideas.
The teacher introduced this particular boy to the topic by transforming the first few letters into numbers for him. The first letter of the Aleph Bet is 1. The second letter is 2. And so on, and so forth… the teacher walked away.
Several minutes later, the teacher returned to discover that, not only had the boy finished off the rest of the Aleph Bet, he had already begin to discover the numerical “value” of several different words: Sh’ma, Shleshi, and Elul!
This process of discovery was self-regulated. His teacher gave him a scaffolding from which to begin building; he used that knowledge to reach even further. Once he finished, he showed his work to the rest of the class, thereby including them in his educational experience. In this way, the learning process is something that is simultaneously a shared journey and an individual one.
For more information about gematria, click here: http://tiny.cc/w7x9w.