Maya Amestoy Lets Us In On Her JVHS Experience
Maya Amestoy, 19, is currently in her second year at Ryerson University, studying for her undergraduate degree in psychology. In 2016, she took JVHS’s Philosophy: Questions and Theories course. Maya took the time to discuss her experience with JVHS.
Miriam: Why did you decide to take the philosophy course with JVHS?
Maya: When I decided to take the JVHS philosophy course, I thought it would be an interesting way to improve on my critical thinking skills and overall knowledge in philosophy. Also, although most high schools do provide an option to take philosophy courses, none would have been as relatable to me as this one due to its connection to Judaism.
Miriam: What kind of exposure have you had learning about your Jewish heritage in the past?
Maya: My exposure to Jewish heritage is somewhat limited. For the most part, I have learned most of what I know from my mom or grandparents. Moreover, in grade 12, I was enrolled in a Jewish studies course at my high school, which really gave me a lot of information about Judaism and what it means to be Jewish.
Miriam: Why was it important for you to take a philosophy course that included Jewish content?
Maya: Having the opportunity to learn about Judaism is an opportunity no one should miss. This class allowed me to learn interesting aspects of Judaism within a philosophical context. I believe that it is common for many young Jews like me to forget their roots and their religion and so when I realized that JVHS was an option, I didn’t hesitate to enroll. I knew it would be interesting and something I would really enjoy.
Miriam: What were the benefits of taking a course online versus classroom learning?
Maya: Having this course online was very convenient! Learning online allowed me to engage in the lectures whenever was best for me. It also allowed me to complete assignments and tests in the comfort of my own home. As someone who gets a little anxious when writing a test, having the ability to write in my room at my own desk allowed me to stay calm and not freak out before writing.
Miriam: How would you rate the course in terms of how it was organized, the accessibility of the course supervisor, and the process of evaluation?
Maya: This course was organized perfectly with each lesson being outlined and each subtopic having its own heading and column. If we needed any further clarification, our teacher was easily accessible and always more than happy to help. For our assignment and tests, the instructions were outlined clearly and we always got feedback; this feedback was especially important to me since it allowed me to improve my grades for the next test. Everything I was tested on was covered in my notes; I never wrote a test where I found myself not remembering learning something.
Miriam: What did you think of the course’s content?
Maya: I really enjoyed the content. This course provided me with all the information I was hoping to gain in my first philosophy course. Even if someone is not interested in philosophy or thinks they will not understand the content, they should reconsider their assumptions: I found that I was able to apply the information from this course to the real world. I have actually carried the knowledge with me throughout my university experience. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in taking an online course.
Miriam: How has your understanding of your Jewish identity changed as a result of the course?
Maya: Prior to this course, I was knowledgeable about the facts of Judaism – the history of Israel, the history of our holidays, what is kosher. However, this course opened my eyes to a different side of Judaism, to the spiritual side, to the unanswered questions that are still up for debate today. This course really increased my knowledge of my Jewish identity in a way that no one prior to this course had.
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