NFTY Programming 101
What’s this whole programming thing, anyway?
Programming is the cornerstone to a successful NFTY event. A NFTY program gives participants the opportunity to look at a topic in a new way, think about something that they haven’t considered before, and discuss what is important and meaningful to them. Programs challenge participants to learn about a new topic or learn something new about a familiar topic.
NFTY programs generally use informal education methods. This means that the experience of the learning is just as important as the knowledge that is being learned. As a basic example, while “formal” education might teach you what Shabbat candles are, “informal” education gives you the opportunity to see, touch, hold, and actually light the candles for yourself. In NFTY, programs also strive to be highly interactive and fun, to encourage participation by high school students.
When creating programs, one should try to have activities that are geared toward each of the eight Multiple Intelligences. The Multiple Intelligences are different learning styles proposed by Harvard professor Howard Gardner, and can be used as a rough guide when brainstorming different activities.
NFTY programs are experienced-based learning, which means they draw upon experiences that the participants have had in life and experiences created within a program. Often you will find participants either recalling a personal story that relates to the program or role- playing within a program to experience a different reality. Either way, the participants feel, think, and learn about a subject in a personal manner. Experience-based learning means that everyone has a unique perspective to bring to a program and a discussion.
One of the keys to a NFTY program is that it is usually peer-written and peer-led. Teens teach one another about things that are interesting and relevant to who they are and what they experience as Jewish teens. Peer-leadership brings a great level of comfort and relevance to discussions and gives the facilitator valuable leadership experience. Through the NFTY program bank and online resources, you can read and utilize programs written by fellow NFTYites that have been successful in their own region and TYG, and you can access programming resources that will help you develop effective programming on your own!