Learning about Learning

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Brandeis University

Tag: About the MC (page 2 of 2)

New Scholarship Sheds Light on Teacher Learning and Improvement

This story is reprinted from Brandeis NOW

Authors at the book partyFour new books by Brandeis faculty members offer insights resulting from many years of research into questions about what really happens between teachers and learners in classrooms. At a recent book party, Sharon Feiman-Nemser and Vivian Troen of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and Helen Featherstone and Susan Jean Mayer of the Education Program shared some highlights from their latest works with an enthusiastic audience of faculty members, staff, students and friends.

Moderator Marya Levenson, director of the Education Program, said the books “provide depth and understanding. We need to talk about what teaching is, and what we need to do to support teacher development.” Continue reading

Practitioners as Researchers

The Mandel Center is committed to research in Jewish education. Our mission statement refers to “advancing knowledge,” but how do we advance knowledge in Jewish education?

At the Mandel Center, some of the research that we do is traditional scholarly work, carried out by the well-trained academic researchers on our staff. Other inquiries are carried out by practitioners who have both close familiarity with and intense curiosity about some aspect of their practice. These studies of practice by practitioners, when done well, can provide powerful insights and images for the field.

But what do these models of research look like?  In this short video, you’ll meet a talented elementary day school teacher, who researched her practice in order to develop a webcase, and a well-respected congregational rabbi, who participated in a project in which he researched his practice in order to produce an article (to be published in a forthcoming volume).

As Mandel Center Director Sharon Feiman-Nemser says, “Enabling practitioners to study their work in a systematic way, and to share what they’re learning with a wider audience, is one of the ways that we can tap the expertise of talented teachers and other practitioners, and benefit from their knowledge and their experience.”  If we want to add to the knowledge base on teaching and learning in Jewish education, we need to take advantage of the insightful inquiries of those who know the most about it.

What do other models of practitioner research look like? What are some other effective ways to tap the expertise of skillful practitioners?

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More on webcases

More on practitioner research

More Mandel Center videos

Studies IN Jewish Education: The Value of Practitioner Research

People often ask me how the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education got its name and what the name stands for.  In answering this question, I focus on two elements in our name — the noun “studies” and the preposition “in.”

I chose the phrase “studies in Jewish education” rather than “research in Jewish education” because I wanted to signal a broader set of scholarly activities than the word “research” typically suggests. We usually think of research as the province of academics with doctorates in some area of specialization.  In the field of education, however, practitioner research has gained new standing because of its potential to narrow the gap between theory and practice and contribute valuable “insider” perspectives on teaching and learning. Continue reading

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