Eye on RAVSAK: The North American Jewish Day School Conference

Today is the second day of the RAVSAK conference and I will be presenting on a panel discussing "Laboratories for Innovation: Day Schools and Jewish Social Entrepreneurship." The theme for this year's RAVSAK is The High Performance, High-Tech Jewish Day School of the Very Near Future. The various presentations that are happening throughout the conference are clear within thematic scope: issues pertaining to technology, innovation, special needs, stress and Israel.

One of the many things I will be discussing is how gardens and green spaces on school campuses help enhance learning challenges and innovations discussed. I truly believe that the more educators discuss on-line learning, the more they should also be discussing hands-on, nature education; the ying and the yang to our modern world and the challenges we face.

I was recently inspired by an article from the National Environmental Education Foundation (2010) which summarized a number of research studies pertaining to the learning in green spaces. Some highlights of the article include:

  • Children’s stress levels are lower when they spend time in natural environments (Wells & Evans, 2003).
  • Exposure to natural environments can reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Taylor, Kuo, & Sullivan, 2001; Kuo & Taylor, 2004).
  • Access to natural environments is associated with reduced risk of suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health issues, as well as various diseases and digestive problems (Maas et al., 2009).
  • Those who live in the greenest environments are less likely to die from all causes, and green spaces may reduce socioeconomic inequities in overall health (Mitchell & Popham, 2008).
  • Children living in greener areas are less likely to become obese (Bell, Wilson, & Liu, 2008).
  • Green school grounds promote increased and more vigorous physical activity (Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness & Council on School Health, 2006).

The rest of the article can be found here:


I’m all for high performance and high tech, but I’m also aware of the power of an outdoor, hands-on education and the impact it has on a student as a learner and as a human being.

Here’s to more gardens in our schools!

1 Reply to "Eye on RAVSAK: The North American Jewish Day School Conference"

  • Joe Orlow
    February 7, 2011 (9:31 am)

    Thank you Becca, for this most interesting post. Academic research on this topic is informative, but I think we all intuitively have knowledge that when we put artificially flavored, artificially derived, over-preserved, rancid, overprocessed, food into a body, that it’s not going to be pretty.

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