A more convenient way of accessing the highly successful "Jewish Way of Life" software via the SCoJeC website has been launched by Lord Robert Winston, whose mother created the exhibition on which it is based. Lord Winston, who also features in the resource, said "It is a great pleasure to be associated with this latest development of the "Jewish Way of Life Exhibition" with which my late mother was so closely associated for so many years, and I congratulate the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and Learning and Teaching Scotland for bringing this initiative to fruition."
The new version is a collaboration between Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) and SCoJeC, and is based on a CD-ROM developed by the Pears Foundation in association with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and World ORT, which was sent to every school in England and Wales. This has been widely praised - an independent evaluation last year among nearly 500 teachers and RE advisers found that 73% rated the "Jewish Way of Life" as one of their top three resources for teaching Judaism or RE, and 94% indicated that their students had liked using the resource.
Divided into sections on "Who we are", "What we do", and "What we believe", the resource is an interactive exploration of the lives of two Jewish teenagers, Sarah and David, and is intended for use in upper primary and lower secondary schools. It provides accurate information about Judaism and reflects the diversity of the Jewish community in the UK. An online teachers guide provides an introduction to each of the three key units, and includes background information, practical teaching suggestions, and ideas for lessons.
Derek Hay, the Curriculum Team Leader from LTS, said that it had become a very powerful teaching tool, and is often top of the list when teachers are asked for examples of good resources. Teachers consulted by LTS had commented that it is well structured to allow them to select appropriate sections for individual pupils, that it fits in very well with the principles of Curriculum for Excellence, and that it could help pupils to take ownership of their learning.
Trevor Pears, Executive Chair of the Pears Foundation, who underwrote the project said:"We are delighted that, with the support of Learning and Teaching Scotland and our partners at SCoJeC, we are launching an online version of "The Jewish Way of Life". We hope it will build on the growing body of work being done to promote a better understanding of the many and diverse communities and cultures of modern Britain."
The other main speaker at the launch was Stewart Stevenson MSP, who stood in at short notice for the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, who was unable to attend due to illness. However, he sent his good wishes, saying: "Good quality education is essential to the fabric of a multi-cultural Scotland. That is why it is important for us to recognise what an important tool education is for tackling discrimination and promoting equality and cultural awareness. I am delighted to see the development of resources such such as "The Jewish Way of Life" that will help achieve these goals, and provide the skills to learn, understand and respect the value of different values and beliefs and make a better future for all of society."
The event was also attended by councillors and officials from East Refrewshire Council, and by pupils from local schools, and included a tour of Giffnock Synagogue led by Rabbi Moshe Rubin. The software was demonstrated by pupils from Calderwood Lodge Primary School, whose head teacher, Vanessa Thomson commented: "We were delighted that we could be part of the SCoJeC project. Our children have found the resource to be an interesting and active way to help them express and articulate their understanding of their beliefs and practice. We were all very proud of the four children who selected sections of the resource, determined what they wanted to say, and showed ease and confidence whilst presenting the resource. Set alongside the other high profile and interesting speakers, it made it a lovely event."
Ephraim Borowski, Director of SCoJeC, said: "We are delighted to make this resource available to schools in Scotland, and would particularly thank Learning and Teaching Scotland for their support. Education is key to developing good community relations, and we hope that the resource will contribute to turning 'One Scotland, Many Cultures' from an aspiration into a reality."
Click here to view the "The Jewish Way of Life" resource.