Each week, Grades 1 through 8 begin their studies with a look at the Jewish ethical teaching of the week. This highlights the Toronto Heschel School’s philosophy of using our Jewish learning to shape educational perspective. As the students discuss the ethical precepts, they learn to appreciate how to examine, analyze, and influence the world around them.
The Jewish principle of the week is posted on the board and consulted frequently to help inform the choices they make.
For example, the students study, “Be compassionate and slow to anger…”. They look at their studies for the week in this light, and are careful to be compassionate in their dealings with others. They examine the literature they are reading, the art they are shown and the science projects they are researching with the idea of kindness, and control of anger.
The Toronto Heschel School promotes precise and joyful learning. Teachers are experienced in helping the children examine critically and explore creatively. They present new learning in a variety of formats and help the children understand core concepts deeply through an integrated curriculum. Art, movement and drama are introduced to further intellectual goals. The Grade Five students explore the generative topic From Slavery to Freedom by reading Barbara Smucker’s Underground to Canada while simultaneously studying the book of Shemot (Exodus). The learning experience culminates in a production entitled “The Living Hagaddah” in which students dramatize the exodus narrative through movement, art, music and Hebrew language.
Students learn through class discussion and frequently break into small groups to work on skills such as reading, mathematics and Hebrew. They often study Jewish text in chevruta, the two person learning system which then may report back to the class.
The school takes very seriously the lines in Bereshit in which Adam and Chava were told to be stewards of the earth. Learning is extended into our garden from the first introduction in Junior Kindergarten, which learns to carefully observe and take care of the living organisms in our extended planting areas. Older grades experiment with produce from the garden, learning about nutrition and also about composting and molds and fungus which break food down.
It is the philosophy of the Toronto Heschel School to learn joyfully and completely, enjoying and improving our community and our environment.