Children today are fortunate to have access to a plethora of programs and contests that encourage and incentivize their learning and conduct. As a result, they achieve astounding success in many areas, such as in learning baal peh, mivtzoim, chassidishe practices, and so on.
Given the power of extra-curricular programs, the Igud Hamelamdim teachers’ association started a program to tackle a crucial, elementary area: Students’ mastery of the texts studied in school.
Before launching the project, Igud Hamelamdim consulted with leading mechanchim and Gemara experts who all pointed to a steep decline these days in students’ ability to read and decipher texts from Mishnayos or Gemara. Even some students who excel in comprehension and score well on tests fare poorly when it comes to reading the Gemara learned in class.
“In order to master the material, never mind to retain it over time, a student must invest time and effort to review it from the page,” a veteran rebbi shared. “Even a student who can repeat content from memory won’t be able to learn in yeshiva if he cannot access the original text.”
With this goal in mind, Igud Hamelamdim launched Mivtza Torah – Gemara Bifnim, an innovative program which motivates students to work on mastering the skill of learning “bifnim” – inside the text.
“While being able to read the Gemara inside is assumed to be a basic skill in learning Gemara,” explains Rabbi Avrohom Bluming, director of the organization, “the reality is that it is becoming a growing challenge. Children nowadays are finding it ever more challenging to focus on words on a page and it really hits them hard when they enter yeshiva. We came up with a revolutionary way to give the children these fundamental skills in an exciting manner.”
In an enthusiastic response, schools across the United States and Canada enrolled in the program’s pilot course, which ran during the 5778 (2017-2018) school-year. After hearing of the astounding success this program has generated, more schools signed up for this year’s course.
To assess their knowledge of the text, students take a bi-weekly quiz using open Gemaras. The quiz also trains their minds in how to decipher and read the text.
Besides for the prizes that students receive at a year-end program, raffles are held after each test as an extra incentive. Participating classes from around the world tune in to a live global broadcast for extra encouragement and the raffle.
Building off last year’s success, several new features were added to this year’s program, including a special phone system that allows students to record themselves reading and explaining the Gemara they learned in class. The system is so successful that some are even asking for more opportunities to record!
Another hit is the Shabbos-review program that rewards those who review the Gemara with their father (or any adult) at home over Shabbos. Fathers have welcomed this opportunity to bond with their sons over a blatt Gemara.
With chinuch being one of our highest priorities and the foundation of our future, we can all hope that this program will continue to aid teachers in educating children with the skills and knowledge they need to lead a life filled with a true love for Torah study.
To learn more about the program or to sign up, contact Igud Hamelamdim at: Office@IgudHamelamdim.org