The Jewish Studies program allows students to access thousands of years of wisdom, values, thought and Power, kingship, homelands, conservation of resources, and public-versus-private good are just a few of the topics freshmen identified as common threads across Tanach and World Civilizations courses. In EVERlab, students develop their capacity for collaboration, design thinking, and chevrutah–reflecting on learning with someone else– as they learn to synthesize content and express ideas in imaginative hands-on projects.
With the EVERlab program, JCHS has created a groundbreaking hands-on integration lab, which uses the principles of design thinking to encourage students to coalesce their ideas about seemingly disparate subject areas.
EVERlab focuses on students’ ability to synthesize concepts, ideas and themes from both their Jewish and general studies courses. EVERlab is also an integrated learning space that JCHS has created on campus.
Together with the San Francisco-based design consulting firm MKThink, JCHS is examining how an alternative physical learning environment can facilitate integrated thinking. To that end, the students are working in a flexible, open-plan and creative space on large portable “palettes,” a hybrid writing table/easel/whiteboard/ pinboards.
EVERlab work sessions also deemphasize technology, so students document their integrated thinking on large sheets of poster paper. The goal of EVERlab is for students to experience Jewish learning in a new way. By asking students to discover their own integrated topics, students take ownership of their learning and see the ways their Jewish studies can inform their thinking about other disciplines and courses.
Why is it called EVERlab? The EVERlab name is intended to convey multiple meanings. The root word ever (עבר) and its cognate ivri suggest both a crossing over and an ability to be in transition. Avraham was the first person to call himself an Ivri — a Hebrew. When he crosses the river Euphrates, it symbolizes a transition from one place of being to another new place of being. It is this transition that helps him discover new possibilities. Avraham embraces the journey and grows from it.
In English, when we think of the word “ever,” we think of something that is boundless, that has no ending. Something that is “forever” is always with you, eternally.This play on words, in both Hebrew and English, reflects the EVERlab goals in a variety of ways. In EVERlab we are connecting two disciplines, and in doing so we are encouraging the students to realize a new understanding, one which is unknown to them when they begin the process of integration. We hope that this new understanding of their courses provides a learning experience that is transformative and lasting.