Ronit Ziv-Kreger on Strengthening Jewish Identity
Ronit Ziv-Kreger, Director of Learning Innovations
While completing my Ph.D. thesis at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, I studied the connections between motivation and identity. At that time, I had no idea I would become a Jewish educator. Yet, 15 years later, the strategies for harnessing motivation and impacting identity are central to my educational philosophy. One of my favorite strategies is to involve learners not only as passengers but also as crew in the learning process – an approach supported by a recent finding--called the IKEA Effect*--that shows that people develop loyalty to what they participate in creating.
Now I’m working with the educators at Temple Chayai Shalom (TCS) to apply this strategy as I help to design a CJP pilot program for innovative family learning. Instead of studying off-the-shelf material, families with children in second grade will contribute to a blog about the weekly Torah portion, guided by dynamic new materials that support and inspire parents and children engaging in conversations about Jewish values.
The family blog also illustrates a second strategy. When learners put real effort into producing a Jewish product, the process itself strengthens aspects of their Jewish identity. Self-perception theory sheds light on why: Just as we learn about others by observing their behavior, we also learn about ourselves by observing our own behavior. When we see that we have created a Jewish product, our understanding regarding the role of Jewish learning in our family life shifts dramatically. The TCS pilot is exciting, and we look forward developing it this coming school year.