Archive | October, 2013

Achdus is a word that’s a bit like ‘sorry’

7 Oct

I’m getting a bit fed up of this word ‘achdut’ or ‘achdus’ or whatever you want to call it. It’s one of those cheap words, a bit like ‘sorry’ that is overused, overrated and, in essence meaningless.

When religious people talk about achdus, in the main they are referring to achdus between the warring religous right and left ‘as long as you’re wearing a kippah on your head’. They disclude the large disenfranchised secular majority. Or if they mention them, they would group them together with ‘baalei teshuva’ or perhaps, ‘pre-baalei teshuva’.

There is a reason why this is so. The fundamental problem of religiosity is the basic precept that those who do not practise it are wrong. The same way as the Arabs don’t like to label certain individuals as terrorists, the religious don’t want to label certain people as WRONG because it’s not politically correct. They don’t think it’s OK for a person to be secular because, after all, they are doing the right thing, the only thing.

So how can there be achdus with people who are wrong? There isn’t. There’s a skirting around issues, a certain level of airbrushing the proverbial elephant in the room and there’s this airy fairy use of the word ‘achdus’.

Well, people have you ever considered that the whole mess you’re in can never be solved by achdus? What about introspection? What about a good, deep look at what’s really driving you in your will to do good to your fellow man?

The Wonders of SSL or DEAR

6 Oct

It’s one of those things I’ve been to lectures about, pondered about but never dared do anything about…..

SSL= Sustained Silent Reading or otherwise known as”

DEAR= Drop Everything And Read

But today I roamed into unchartered territories and got my class to do this rather simple yet somewhat neglected activity.

I announced that we were going to do “SL” for a grand total of 7 minutes and wrote SL on the board in large capitals. I gave them a simple text to read (that had reading comprehension questions accompanying it) and counted down from 10 to 1.

And lo and behold.


Total focus.

And everyone was doing it.


There is evidence that SSL does a heck of a lot on a cognitive level (you can do a look-up on the internet yourself). My own ‘action research’ showed that

1. It was a relaxing activity for an active class and it got the class focused.

2. It was a good opportunity for students to work entirely on their own and thus become more self-aware.

3. It was a great way to read for reading and not necessarily for obtaining information – and I think these are probably two different ways of reading.

4. Perhaps they even enjoyed reading?

I’ll think of more later.

Yes, I would recommend this as a refreshingly different class activity!