Walking to Learn - Sinai Stories
This is the final blog in my omer series exploring that which has inspired me as a teacher and educator. As we reach the foot of Mount Sinai at Shavuot, which falls tonight, Tuesday evening, I wanted to share (and slightly adapt) one of my favourite midrashim, which describes God as having appeared to the children of Israel in many different forms, so that each one of them might hear God in the way they were best able to.
This makes perfect sense: we are all different so we all need to experience God differently. It also makes sense if we think more literally about Sinai; the mountain is surrounded by Hebrews and those that came with them out of Egypt. Each person, wherever they stood, inevitably saw something slightly different. Some saw the front view, others the back, but no one saw exactly the same thing. And so it is only when everyone shares their version of what was seen that we might start to approach the truth of the narrative. There is a wonderful Merle Feld poem that beautifully addresses this from a gender perspective, but it is true in lots of other contexts.
Educationally it is always a reminder to me that everyone in the classroom has a different view, depending on where they are sitting, what lenses life has lent them to look through, and how they are best able to learn and understand. Balancing all those needs is a challenge, but being conscious of them is the first step to creating something all can access.
It is only in hearing all the experiences of Sinai that we might come close to Truth rather than the truth of each individual viewer, and in enabling our students to learn how to express their truths, we enable them to add to the narrative we create as humanity, as an authentic version of themselves.