I’ll Take the Whole Thing, Please

Something new is happening with our 5th – 7th graders: they want it all.

Our theme texts for this age group were Genesis 12 – 25, more text than we’ve ever swallowed in a single theme, and still, these children are reaching out to grab more text: texts we’ve read over the last 7 years and new ones, too.

They want ALL of the Torah text. And, they want a platform that lets them make sense of it all for themselves.

Yesterday, a sixth grader opened up the Torah and just started reading. He was on his computer, of course, a whole world opened to him because he knew which website to go to. He was looking for those characters who are “unwanted,” and he discovered so much more to fascinate him: a startling ending to the flood story that we didn’t share with them as 1st/2nd graders (Genesis 9:18-28), Nimrod (“That’s a funny name, Nimrod!”), and a connection between Babel and “babble.”

His friend, for her part, was rediscovering texts about “fearing God” – Joseph and his brothers, the midwives in Egypt, laws in Leviticus – all in an effort to understand what (no!?!) could possibly have been going on in Genesis 22, when Avraham went to sacrifice Isaac.

This fifth grader went back to texts related to promise and travel: the golden calf in Exodus, the scouts in Numbers, Moshe’s speech in Deuteronomy. And when he finished his project, he proudly returned to Genesis 12 and read the text that launched the whole Israelite promise and travel story aloud, holding his project that synthesizes all of the texts.

And isn’t it what we wanted for these children, anyway? Give them the skills to OWN their learning, and let them discover the world for themselves…

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