By Sherman Goldblum
Tamchui is in full swing!
Tamchui is a school-wide initiative designed to teach students to be more compassionate learners through understanding important world issues and impactful organizations related to these issues.
Middle School students are in the midst of teaching Lower School students about important societal issues. This year the students chose their issue areas: in Grade 6, cancer research; in Grade 7, the socioeconomic divide in the United States and how its been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; and in Grade 8, racism and hate speech. They researched these topics, turning their research into lesson plans. The Middle Schoolers have worked with representatives from the nominated and chosen Tamchui organizations to ascertain more information on how their organization related to the larger topic. They collaborated with the Lower School grade-level teams to develop age-appropriate lessons for younger students.
Tamchui is in its 26th year at The Rashi School, and is a signature social justice program. It’s also an important learning opportunity, it teaches each of the core values that Rashi instills in our students: limud (learning), kehillah (community), tzedek (justice), kavod (respect), and ruach (spirit). Jen Blum, the head of the Middle School, described Tamchui as an exercise in building concrete 21st century skills. To name a few: empathy, independence, public speaking, collaboration, interviewing, general etiquette in formal conversations, community building, and cultivating their voice.
In talking to faculty and students it was clear that the Middle School students have sharpened essential skills.
Students are working in larger groups than they are accustomed to. Deb Berlin, Middle School science teacher, spoke to the level of team work required to effectively execute this project. She noted that “While working in larger groups the students had to work to find their voices and the practice of clearly establishing roles was at the center of their process.” A Grade 7 student reflected that they “really had to work on time management skills while planning lessons, we had to think about things like, ‘How long will the presentation be?’ and ‘How long will be spent on the activity the kids will do?’, or ‘How long is 25 minutes really?’” As a team they had to decide how much time would go towards researching their topic and it’s complexities and how much time would go towards planning their lesson. These tradeoffs stretched the teamwork and planning of the group, in a way that made them stronger.
Corey Roberts, a Grade 1 teacher, complimented the Middle Schoolers on their “ability to incorporate feedback into their lesson and adjust.” Student learners demonstrated flexibility in their work, for example in Grade 4 a Middle School group, upon learning they had much less time than they thought, diligently condensed their lesson while maintaining the key main points, according to Grade 4 assistant teacher Sarah Monderer.
Multiple teachers observed the students developing empathy for younger students when thinking about how they would have received a concept when they were younger. This project asked students to think outside of their usual perspectives; a Grade 8 student usually might be oblivious to the thought process of a kindergartner, but this project required them to think more deeply. Some grade 8 students were surprised to learn how much the younger students knew about such big issues such as hate speech and anti racism.
Tamchui has given us another route to continue in our academic pursuit of social justice. These skills will not only help these students as they progress through Rashi but also at the next level.
It is our hope that students carry these skills with them and that Tamchui can further help them utilize their social justice toolkit and find their voice.
You can click here to help support Tamchui organizations that were nominated in the issue areas selected by each grade (including the USC Shoah Foundation, the Rare Cancer Research Foundation, the Boston Bullpen Project, and others) through a donation.