Photo Credit: Jewish Press

We used to try all the tricks to get our teachers to go off topic.We weren’t trouble makers; we were just looking to shmooze. We wanted to take a break from scrupulous note taking. To dive into something other than what the curriculum said we had to cover. To stop learning for just a minute… or ten. Or better yet, until the bell rang.

Well, in a way, the joke was on us.


Because now that the years have passed and my diploma has collected dust and my notes have been recycled, it’s not the formal, planned lessons my teachers taught that stuck with me years later. Rather, it’s the casual classroom conversations we had.

It’s the little light bulb moments, the pithy nuggets of wisdom, and the sharing of life perspective that came about during those teacher shmoozes. That’s what I still have with me today.

My classmates and I used to congratulate each other after class when a question veered the teacher off her intended course.

“Great job earlier. You got us totally off topic. We didn’t learn a thing.”

Turns out we did.


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Sari Kopitnikoff is an experiential educator, digital artist, and the creator of @thatjewishmoment. You can find her books, games, and free packets on