Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avatar and Jewish Education??

You can enter the words "Avatar" and "Jewish" in a search engine and find numerous discussions of the content of the movie and its Jewish underpinnings (or not!).  It is of no concern to me whether James Camaron had Jewish thoughts in his head when he created the movie or not.  It simply is not an issue for me as a Jewish educator.  What does matter is how the viewer understands the movie.  Our learners are going to see this movie.  Is Jewish thought a factor in how they  understand it?  That's my issue.

Big Idea:

  • Everyone sees and understands the world through his or her own perspective.
  • Most of our students have already or will soon see the movie Avatar.
  • As teachers we have an obligation to be familiar with the culture within which our students live.
  • As Jews we have a Jewish lens with which to understand the world.

Questions to guide your thinking:

  • What did you see in the movie that appeared to you to reflect Jewish thought or wisdom?
  • What did you see in the movie that seems to contradict Jewish thought or wisdom?

Learning Activities:

  • The Talmud says the following:  "We do not see things as they are.  We see them as we are."  How does this statement relate to your ideas about Avatar? (Note:  I've seen this quotation many times (even here!), but don't have a proper source.  Perhaps a reader can help me.)
  • There is a website, Jewish Wisdom Quotes, that lists dozens of sayings with Jewish origins that you are welcome to visit.  Choose a topic that interests you from their list of possibilities, and explain how it applies in your life.
  • You may want to encourage your students to choose a wisdom quote each week and find examples in the news of its application in the world
  • When this idea of using a Jewish lens to see the world is learned, you can challenge your learners to apply Jewish wisdom to any and all issues that arise in class.
  • A personal note:  I love reading comics.  Most days I can find a comic strip that either reflects or contradicts Jewish thinking.  Suggest this to your students.

1 comment:

  1. You were looking for other ways to see Avatar - check out under parshat Vayigash- looking at Yosef's Avatar