The Inside Scoop With JVHS’s Course Developer
Efi Palvanov, the course developer for JVHS, is a prolific author and thinker in a variety of subjects that range from science and history to Jewish studies. He took the time to give us some insight about JVHS, where it is going, and the courses that it currently offers: philosophy and world history.
Miriam: What is JVHS?
Efi: JVHS is a fully-accredited online high school where you can earn Ministry-approved high school credits from the comfort of your own home, or even on the go. Just log in on your phone or laptop, and learn through short, interactive lessons neatly organized in easy-to-digest modules and peppered with fun online assignments. No need to ever sit in a classroom or take a paper exam!
OUR COURSE OFFERINGS
Miriam: What are the courses that JVHS currently offers?
Efi: We currently offer Grade 12 Philosophy (HZT4U) and Grade 11 World History (CHW3M). We chose to start with these because they offer a great deal of interesting content that anyone can study. The subject matter is not too difficult, yet highly stimulating and practical.
Miriam: What was most important to you when you developed these courses?
Efi: The courses were developed to fulfill all Ontario Ministry of Education requirements, while also infusing the content with traditional Jewish teachings. This was the main focus when developing the courses: to bridge together secular studies with spiritual Jewish wisdom in a fun and engaging way.
IS JEWISH CONTENT IMPORTANT?
Miriam: Why do you think it is important to reach teens with course material that stresses Jewish content?
Efi: Typically, courses in local high schools focus solely on teaching students the basic curriculum requirements, as mandated by the government. At JVHS, we are able to offer new angles and viewpoints to present a deeper, multifaceted look at each topic. Because there is no time wasted on things like classroom administration, we can spend more time on the interesting stuff that really matters. Integrating Jewish content is particularly important. The Jewish tradition dates back at least three and a half thousand years, and over the millennia Jewish communities have lived and thrived in literally every part of the world. This makes the wisdom and richness of Judaism simply unparalleled. Anyone who takes the JVHS courses will undoubtedly recognize the tremendous value of exploring the Jewish viewpoint.
PHILOSOPHY AND JEWISH WISDOM
Miriam: What are you hoping the student will get out of the philosophy course offered by JVHS?
Efi: I am hoping that the philosophy course opens the minds of students to novel ideas and gets them thinking about life’s most important questions. At the same time, I want students to see how much of western and secular philosophy originated from (and continues to be influenced by) ancient Jewish wisdom.
WORLD HISTORY IS FUNDAMENTAL
Miriam: What are you hoping the student will get out of the world history course offered by JVHS?
Efi: I am hoping the unique content of the world history course will both amaze and enlighten existing history buffs, while also inspire a love of history in those who may have not enjoyed the subject in the past. I believe that history is the most important subject to study, as it provides the context for everything. It is very difficult to properly understand any subject – whether its science, law, literature, or others – without knowing the history behind it. It is also vital to know history to understand our own lives; where we come from, where we are going, and why the world in which we live is the way it is.
THE FUTURE FOR JVHS
Miriam: What is in store for JVHS in the future?
Efi: We will continue to develop new and exciting courses for all grade levels, providing meaningful education in an easy and convenient format. Perhaps a day will soon come when students will be able to fulfill all of their high school credit requirements through JVHS!
MORE ABOUT EFI PALVANOV
Efi Palvanov is a graduate of York University and the University of Toronto, as well as a former medic of the Canadian Armed Forces. Over the years, he has taught everything from science and philosophy to history and Jewish studies. In addition to being a course developer for Torah High and JVHS, Efi is the head of the science department at Ner Israel Yeshiva. He is also the author of two popular online blogs and a number of books.