Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Frisch Integration

I've finalized with the assistant principal the subjects of my integration units for the next school year. In Chumash, the students will be studying Devarim, and in Nach the students will be doing Melachim Bet and parts of Hosea, Amos and Yeshayahu.

For Devarim, the integration presentations will be:

1) Avoda Zara in Devarim: a study of the the worship of celestial bodies, which was so common in the ancient world, and a look then at how the sun, moon and stars are viewed in Devarim. The presentation will also include other forms of avoda zara mentioned in the sefer, including the cult of Asherah, child sacrifice and the Golden Calf.

2) Laws of Devarim: a look at the arrangement of the laws in the sefer and a comparison of the laws in Devarim with laws from other ancient societies. We'll accomplish the latter by highlighting key and interesting laws mentioned in Devarim that have counterparts in the ancient world.

3) Perceptions of God in Devarim: we'll study how Devarim asks us to perceive God, as warrior and as suzerain, and we'll then analyze how those perceptions are analagous to the way the ancients viewed their kings. We'll see that Israel is asked to transfer those perceptions to God. This last presentation will also tie in with Nach, as the idea of God as Israel's bridegroom will also be presented, and the groom/bride relationship is an important one in Navi.

For Nach, I'll put Sefer Melachim Bet and the accompanying books of the prophets who prophesied during the time of the late/split monarchy into the context of the larger world, which was dominated then by the Assyrian empire. We'll take a look in one (perhaps two) presentations at the many Assyrian kings who ruled and the kind of empire they established. We'll also study the important ancient cities of the time and see what Samaria looked like.

In another presentation, I'll continue to explore a topic that I began this year, the types of prophecy that existed in the ancient world and the kinds of prophets there were in Israel. I'll obviously emphasize the prophets the students will be studying, Amos, Hoshea, and Yeshayahu, but I'll also discuss Eliyahu and Elisha.

Next year, the seniors will be taking electives during what would be their Nach period. Some of the electives will allow me to present my last presentation, which I'll also give to the entire 11th grade. The presentation will be Women in the Ancient World. We'll start by looking at Atalia and discuss how it was possible for a woman to get to a position of power in such a patriarchal world. We'll analyze the reigns of Hatshepsut and Theodora to see other powerful female monarchs and may also consider some Christian medieval saints and Queen Elizabeth.

Finally, I'm going to have my AP Art History students prepare towards the end of the year a presentaion on Isaiah in Christian art. The prophet makes many appearances in Christian art, and by the end of the school year, my AP students should be able to convey the formal differences among the ways Isaiah is shown. The Frisch administration and I thought the presentation could be a springboard for a comparative religion lesson that shows students the differences between Judaism and Christianity. In the past, when the school studied the Five Megillot for the Nach curriculum, I had students prepare a lesson on the influence of nature in art, with Shir ha-Shirim as a springboard for the lesson. I thought the exercise was a valuable one as preparation for the AP exam and as a way of having the students do integration on their own.

Obviously, as I do research and any of the above ideas become non-feasible for some reason or another, I'll reassess and do something else, but for now, I'm looking forward to a busy summer preparing the topics I just outlined.

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