Haskalah (Enlightenment) Term
The Haskalah—or Jewish Enlightenment-- was an intellectual movement in Europe that spanned about a hundred years, bridging the 18th and 19th Centuries, inspiring the flowering of modern Jewish scholarship and learning.
In the progressive, innovative, independent school world, inventive educators ask hard questions: how can we move away from 19th century silos of study toward engaged, inspired, energized interdisciplinary learning that will weave secular and Jewish studies into a single canvas, that will be expeditionary, project-based, and undo and recreate the mindset of what we imagine can happen in a fully-charged school day? The Haskalah Term, a grand initiative engaging Weber's mission, allows Weber students and faculty to explore broad and rich interdisciplinary and integrated learning.
Each January -- traditionally the toughest month to sustain energy and excitement in our students -- Weber becomes an exciting time for students and teachers to immerse themselves into truly engaging courses that enrich students' knowledge and leads them toward paths of intellectual inquiry.
The term gives our students the opportunity to think beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and to make new and exciting connections that might have been left unexplored within the confines of a less forward-reaching setting.PRINCIPAL, SHLAINA VAN DYKE
Over thirty cross-curricular, team-taught courses are offered -- courses that reflect the kind of innovative thought necessary to challenge our students to expand their skills and expertise while stretching their curiosities and intellectual interests. The term ends with a school-wide exhibition that showcases the student work.
“Chemistry of Cosmetics” students learned how to formulate their own natural line of cosmetics while studying the chemistry and functionality of makeup ingredients and the structure and function of the skin as a protective membrane. Junior Abby Goldberg thoroughly enjoyed the class, saying, “Not only did I enjoy immersing myself in science, but we also discussed testing cosmetics on animals from a Jewish perspective. Creating my own animal testing policy for a cosmetics line was a really thoughtful exercise that stayed with me long past the lesson.” During the exhibition, students sold the cosmetics they created in class, with all proceeds going to Ian’s Friends Foundation.
When asked about the “Faces of Cuba” course, instructor Olivia Rocamora said, “It’s all too common for the culture of a foreign language to take a back seat to vocabulary and grammar drills -- language is living, breathing, and active outside the confines of the classroom! Through field studies in Atlanta and a week-long trip to Havana we explored Cuban music, art, food, and sports, and sought a better understanding of Cuba’s Jewish roots and complex politics. When our students spent their final week of the course immersed in Jewish and Cuban culture in Havana, they expressed to me time after time how moved they were by the warmth and welcoming nature of the people they met -- each and every interaction they had opened their minds to a culture outside their own. Junior Liana Slomka said traveling to Cuba was the experience of a lifetime: “I’ve taken Spanish for 3 years at Weber, but after this opportunity, my perspective of the world, Hispanic culture, and my understanding of the Spanish language is forever changed!”Major concepts in probability came alive through playing and analyzing game shows, board games, and Vegas style games for students in the “Let’s Play Math” course. Instructor Riley Clark explained, “A fun game of Rock, Scissors, Paper not only teaches theoretical and experimental probability, but by exploring modifications to the game, students can explore how a game’s rules can affect its fairness.” Freshman Hannah Feldstein agreed that the gameplay itself was fun, but “when you think about it, how often can you have a group of students from a variety of math classes -- students in this class were from Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus, and at all different levels! -- all engaged in learning the same mathematical principles and concepts together?”