Today’s guest post is by Renee Rubin Ross, a program officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation and a former post-doctoral fellow at the Mandel Center. This piece originally appeared on the foundation’s blog.
In early June, I attended the Network for Research in Jewish Education (NRJE) conference, held at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. It was a great opportunity to hear about different research projects and catch up with colleagues. In the early morning hours before the meetings started, I even had the chance to go running in Central Park, very sentimental for me since I used to run in Central Park frequently when we lived in Manhattan a few years ago.
My primary purpose for attending the conference was to participate in discussions about the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE), an effort to bring together funders, researchers, and practitioners for the purpose of improving Jewish education.These individuals work collaboratively to address CASJE’s three primary areas of focus (termed “panels”): Israel Education, chaired by Mitch Malkus and Alex Pomson; Jewish Educational Leadership, chaired by Ellen Goldring, Joe Reimer and Lee Shulman; and Educational Sustainability, chaired by Ari Kelman and Rachel Friedberg. At the conference, I saw several indicators that portend well for CASJE going forward. Continue reading
This blog post, by Mandel Center researchers Allison Cook and Orit Kent, is based on an article recently published in HaYidion: The RAVSAK Journal. The full article is available here.
Through the Mandel Center’s Beit Midrash Research Project, we have been visiting early childhood to high school classes for years. We have seen that Tanakh learning tends to fall into two major types of student activity: language and/or translation exercises, and personalization. Language exercises range from picking out patterns of suffixes and roots in the original text to doing full written translations of Tanakh passages. In personalization exercises, students explore pre-determined themes in the text and apply them to their own lives, such as discussing their relationships with siblings when studying the Jacob and Esau narrative, or answering the question “what would I do in this situation?”
There are many good reasons why teachers use translation and personalization in Tanakh study, but when they are the main or only approaches they can limit the extent to which students can meaningfully engage with the text. Continue reading
By Orit Kent and Allison Cook
This summer, we made the trip out of our office and across the Brandeis campus into dance studios, fine art studios and music rooms to consult with the community educators of BIMA’s Summer Art Institute for Jewish teens. We shared our research and engaged the educators in specific aspects of our “havruta inspired pedagogy” [PDF] in order to help them design and implement the program’s artists’ beit midrash, a distinguishing feature of the BIMA program.
The artists’ beit midrash merges the activities of a “house of study” of Jewish texts with the activities of an artist’s studio. As such, it is meant to create the conditions for fulfilling BIMA’s mission “to guide high school students as they develop their imaginative and artistic faculties and to explore the relevance of Jewish tradition in their lives.” In small groups headed by BIMA community educators and artists, teens worked to explore both an artistic medium of their choice and Jewish texts and stories.
Our role was to help the community educators practice a pedagogy for cultivating the “serious and dynamic encounter between artistic expression and Jewish life” that is part of BIMA’s mission and plan for leading the teen groups. Continue reading
Teaching is complex work, and learning to do it well takes time. Even the most rigorously-prepared new teacher encounters a steep learning curve on the job. The first several years of full-time classroom teaching are a time of intense learning, during which teachers form the teaching habits and professional dispositions that will stay with them through their careers. Continue reading
“Two are better than one …” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
This is an old idea, but is it always true? In a classroom, how can we make sure that two students working together will really learn? The question for researchers and practitioners to consider is what kind of conditions do we need in order to leverage the power of two because simply putting two together does not guarantee a better outcome.
Infusion: Integrating JewishValues in the General Studies Classroom, a webcase created by Orit Kent and Jocelyn Segal, considers this very issue in the context of elementary school life.