“THE TNUA BETWEEN THE LINES”: WHAT IS THE ESSENCE THAT DISTINGUISHES US, AND GUIDES US THROUGH OUR EDUCATIONAL PATH?

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By: Tomás Pollak, Rosh Chinuch Dromi, Virtual Machon 2020.

Note: the word “vision” has two different meanings within this essay. The capitalized version (Vision), refers to the essence of our tnuot, consisting of both our “DNA” and the non-capitalized version. On the other hand, the non-capitalized version (vision), refers to the utopia that we seek as tnuot, in which our values become part of the objective reality.

The year 2020 came with a great challenge for our tnuot. We had to redefine ourselves, rethink what a tnua is, and adapt our peulot to the new virtual medium, which has become the means for our subsistence and activism. Certainly, many obstacles have emerged, we had to reach an understanding with certain limits that the virtual medium presents, but it is also undeniable that the quarantine which rose due to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us, as educational movements, many great opportunities. Through this essay, I would like to focus on the biggest opportunity that the current situation brought us: the opportunity to define our essence, and to build through this definition a clear path through which we can guide ourselves towards the vision, which is the ultimate goal of our tnuot. In order to define the essence, first of all, we must ask ourselves the following question: What distinguishes our tnuot noar, and does not depend on a specific moment, while also being intangible?

Throughout the century in which Hanoar Hatzioni has existed, whose destiny was inherited by the modern Hanoar Hatzioni Family, we have gone through a lot of changes. Each and every one of our tnuot emerged as a dream which came true because of people who, for the most part, are not a part of them anymore. Also, in most cases, the Ken in which everything started is not where we have our peilut nowadays. Even our ideologies have changed, constantly adapting to an ever-changing world. It’s not by chance that we identify ourselves as “movements”, we are constantly evolving, improving, and growing in every sense. Within a context of constant change, what is, then, our essence?

In order to find the essence of our tnuot, we can’t simply look at a normal Saturday of peulot and seek to find that that is timeless and intangible, we must “read the tnua between the lines”. We must look further than our daily activities. What tool can help us to fulfill this goal? Within the Veida Chinuchit of 2015, a model through which we can understand the essence of our tnuot, and where we can find it within them, was presented. Nowadays we identify it as the “Conceptual Net”, and this model presents the essence as a product of the “Vision” that defines us, being this the way in which we interpret the world, or the glasses that we put on through which we can understand our realities. The Vision is made out of a series of values that distinguish us, which we can also find in what we know as the “DNA” of our tnuot, and it is through these values that we can get to the maximum goal of our movements, our “vision”, which constitutes a certain utopia in which the values that characterize us, through which we interpret the world, are evidenced in the real world. Thus, our main goal is to strengthen those values, and those values are also what constitute our reality.

Those values that have defined us through the last century are our essence and moving towards that vision constitutes a base for all of our tnuot, and ourselves. The question that still remains is: How do we get to that vision?

Following the proposal made by the “Conceptual Net”, in order to understand the path towards our vision, we must first understand the background that defines our tnuot, and then we must focus on the figures that will take us towards the transcendence of our movements. Our background can be understood through two concepts: our Ideology, and our Educational Vision.

On the one hand, an Ideology is a series of ideas that, as tnuot, help us describe all the values that define us and bring them to a practical reality. Thus, through our pillars, following our sources of inspiration and by the means of a precise Tochnit, we push ourselves towards our vision, translating the essence into ideas. Within our Ideologies we can find two very important concepts that we must take into account: our mission and objectives. In order to fulfill our vision, we must first accomplish a mission that can be found within the cycle of our tnuot, being the Hagshama Atzmit a great example, found in most of our movements. Also, it is important to understand that we can’t only remain focused on our mission because there are also certain objectives that push us towards our vision, and work as steps that take us towards the utopia that we seek. Therefore, the tnua is the first step within a great process, an essential process. If we see the vision as our final destination, and we want to build a path which takes us towards it, then we can describe the Ideology as the pavement through which we travel, and which also marks the destination.

On the other hand, our Educational Vision exists as the means through which we act. As tnuot noar, we have decided that the route towards change is education, but not any kind of education. Within our tnuot, we have three principal factors that guide us through our educational path. First of all, we choose to educate and not indoctrinate. We also use Non-Formal Education. Finally, we base our education on four important concepts: “to act, to experience, to learn, and to dream”. The three principal factors of our Educational Vision are not simply the easiest path towards our vision, they are also a direct translation of our essence in ideas, which push us towards a specific practice. Therefore, our Ideology and Educational Vision are very much alike, mainly in relation with our essence, from which they emanate. Continuing with the path metaphor, we can consider our Educational Vision as the route that we follow, which is different from thousands of other possible routes, and pushes us towards our vision specifically. Thus, putting together the pavement made from our Ideology, and the route that is represented by our Educational Vision, we get to a derech (path) which guides us towards our vision. So, what else do we need?

Of course, we need someone who walks the path, someone who may generate certain transcendence, and thus the important figure of the Madrich/a appears. But before we can talk about this figure, we must first understand, what helps them in their passage through the derech?

A concept that we mention a lot in our tnuot, but which we generally do not really explain, is the concept of the “Hadracha”. It can be understood as a set of tools that, through our experiences as Madrichim/ot, help us become great guides. The Hadracha is divided into two figures: the figure of the Mechanech/et (educator), and the figure of the Manhig/a (leader). When both figures join, we acquire the base with which the Madrich/a travels through the derech, making its questioning fundamental.

The Mechanech/et’s tools, firstly, come directly from the Educational Vision to which we base ourselves on. By applying them, we connect with the route and pass on the message precisely. Tools such as “experiential education”, “dugma ishit” (personal example), and our “center character” allow us to be sure that our educational process develops optimally. These tools are generally identified and acquired through a Madrich/a’s Course or School, in a theoretical manner, although they are present throughout the cycle which we form in our tnuot. On the other hand, the Manhig/a’s tools constitute all the tools that guide us towards a figure that goes way beyond our tnuot. Some examples of these tools include teamwork, “moratorium”, and creativity, and they are generally acquired individually and by simply being a part of and going to a tnuat noar. Our movements consist in a unique framework in which we do not only learn through formal peulot, we also acquire certain tools through our interactions with this precise space, and through the experiences that it gives us. Thus, the leader’s role is one that the tnua encourages, and creates with its bare existence. Consequently, we have tools that we acquire through the “theory” and tools that we acquire through “practice”, and together they take us towards the two great figures of the Hadracha. It is important to clarify that not everyone with these tools is automatically a Madrich/a, they need something else: the right to educate. This right is not obtained by simply completing a Madrich/a’s Course or School, rather it implies a great predisposition to constantly capacitate ourselves, seeking to improve the abilities that take us towards the Madrich/a’s role, thus participating in a constant capacitation process which pushes us towards growth as Madrichim/ot. It also implies that one must assume certain responsibilities related to the educational act that we are a part of as Madrichim/ot, and for the other figures that intervene in it, being these mainly the Chanichim and Chanichot.

It is important to clarify that the Hadracha, following what was said about the right to educate, is not a toolbox that remains the same throughout our cycles in the tnua, neither are the tools the same for everyone. Hadracha is a highly subjective concept, consisting of a lot of tools that we have gotten through experience in our tnuot, and it is an ever-expanding concept, to which we add tools constantly through new experiences. Our tnuot provide us with tools from the moment on which we join them, right until our last day, and certainly they leave a profound mark on us, giving us the possibility to interpret the tnua as a big toolbox.

When the right to educate is obtained with the Hadracha, we can begin talking about the figure of the Madrich/a, which is central in the derech that guides us towards our vision. The word “Madrich” can be translated to “guide”, and this translation is very consistent with the function that this figure has within the derech. We, the Madrichim and Madrichot are those who lead the tnua through this great educational path, guiding everyone else through the process which takes us towards our vision.

The Madrich or Madricha provides an example that is followed by others, they are the ones who best know the path, as well as those who make the path. In the end, it is crucial to understand that the derech is not a concept that is external to us, rather the derech is built by our constant activism, by the way in which we guide ourselves, by our continued goal to understand it, recognize it, and travel through it. The derech is made out of the essence of the tnua, and the essence of the tnua is also our essence, thus the role of the Madrich/a is not to simply guide others through a path that was given to them, rather they have to guide others through their own path, the great path of our tnuot, which pushes us towards our maximum goal.

Summing it up, within our tnuot, we have an essence that defines us, through which we construct a vision which becomes the base for our educational derech. We also possess the important figure of the Madrich/a, who guides us through the derech by applying subjective and ever-expanding tools, as a guide who lives the path by their own experience, knowing that it is not a path that is external to them. Now, the great question that is left is: Why is it so fundamental to recognize our essence and our maximum goal?

As I said at the beginning of this essay, our tnuot have gone through a lot of changes throughout their history, some internal and many others external. It is important to understand that we recognize ourselves as “movements” for a reason, but, when are we moving too much? How can we be faithful to the values which we base ourselves of off, while also changing? By understanding the essence, the derech, and our role related to it, we can also understand what our focus should be when seeking change. We can understand ourselves better, we can understand the tnua better, and we can identify the correct junction between our identities and the tnua as a large process. Understanding the essence is understanding the base of everything we do, and everything we are. Thus, understanding our essence is the key to a defined identity, and for continuity.

In the long run, understanding our essence will lead us to not only to maintain our education in a relevant path, but also to understand what is the best medium through which we can accomplish our ideals, by understanding the basis of our ideals. To understand the essence is to form strong identities, rooted on a constant questioning of our realities, linked to a path and seeking the future. Therefore, understanding the essence of our tnuot is to understand who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, which is a fundamental task for the triumph of our tnuot, our ideals, and us at a personal level. What do you think is the best way to understand our essence? Is it relevant for you? How can it move us?

The year 2020 has brought us many challenges, but it has also given us the opportunity to reflect on who we are, and where we are aiming, personally and within our tnuot. Another great opportunity that it has presented was the opportunity to carry out the Virtual Machon 2020, in which we had representation from Chaverim and Chaverot from all the Keinim of the tnua in Latin America, thus making this a unique Machon, in which I had the great opportunity of accomplishing a personal dream that I had, the dream of being Rosh Chinuch within a Machon.

The Machon allowed us to expand our horizons much further than what the modern context had permitted, consequently strengthening the ideal that has guided us throughout the pandemic: #TheTnuaNeverStops. Also, it was an ideal space to question our essence, which is not an essence that we only share on an individual level, or only with our tnuot, rather it is an essence that defines us as the Hanoar Hatzioni Family. Thus, we now understand what links us on a global scale better, and also our main goal, and where we find ourselves related to it.

Throughout the Machon we went through a great deep questioning process about our realities, we read the tnua “between the lines”, and by doing this we got to understand better one of the great learnings that arised: our potential to adapt, and to keep fixed on a great goal. The Machon was certainly very different compared to other Machonim, but that distinction was what strengthened the learnings that we seeked the most, thus demonstrating the relevance of understanding our essence, facing an ever-changing and surprising world. Now, it is time to put into practice everything that was learned through the Machon, it is time to question our realities, to understand where the essence is found, and to push ourselves towards our vision, our big dream. The figure of the Madrich/a must take action, it is time to revolutionize our educational framework.

To conclude this essay, I would like to share with you a quote that was once said by the father of modern zionism, Theodor Herzl: “Every action was once a dream”. We have got a great dream, and it is time to make it come true. The action has already begun, we must now focus on our goal. What are we waiting for?

¡Chazak Ve’Ematz!

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