Learning about Learning

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

Category: Contributors (page 3 of 7)

Thinking about the Goals of Jewish Service-Learning

Jewish service-learning is a hot topic, and rightly so. Funders, policy makers and academics have noticed a groundswell of activism and energy in the Jewish world, especially among young people, and have hopped on board. This has led to an expansion of service-learning opportunities for young Jews. This is a good thing.

But what are the goals of service-learning? Service-learning is, obviously, related to service, and dependent on it, but they are not the same thing. The goal of service is to benefit the person or community served. The goal of service-learning is, in addition to the service performed, some kind of learning from the experience. The person who is doing the service ought to undergo some growth or beneficial development. What can we say about that growth? Continue reading

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

Navigating the Live Action of the Classroom

In the teaching of Jewish studies, we have few shared understandings of how we get from point A to B, what those points even are, and what happens in between. We don’t really have a richly developed “grammar of practice”—that is, shared “language and structures for describing practice,” (Grossman, 2011) which can give us some basic common referents upon which we can reflect and build. In recent years, work on the teaching of Tanakh and rabbinics has begun to provide language for different orientations toward teaching these subjects, along with benchmarks for success. Nevertheless, we still lack a fully fleshed-out vocabulary for the pedagogy of Jewish studies that can help teachers and learners reflect on and navigate the live action of the classroom and improve and deepen their practice. Continue reading

How to Fix Our Approach to Evaluation Research in Jewish Education—and Why We Need To

The Jewish community is blessed with lay leaders, philanthropists and professionals committed to creating vibrant and innovative Jewish learning opportunities for learners of all ages. Their relentless efforts have resulted in many exciting new educational initiatives. DeLeT alumni surveyStill, it is no secret that while we all have great hopes that each one of these initiatives will become a great success and have lasting impact on the field, not all do. Identifying the most effective initiatives is a daunting task, one for which solid evaluation research becomes a must for policymakers and funders. Continue reading

A Little Research in Support of School Change

Today’s guest post is by Shari Weinberger, curriculum coordinator at Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island. After attending the Mandel Center’s “community conversation” last fall on preparing and retaining excellent teachers for Jewish day schools, she was inspired to try some research in her own school. Here is her account of how that inquiry is helping make the school even more supportive of professional growth. Could such an inquiry strengthen similar efforts in the school you know best?

As the new Curriculum Coordinator at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island (JCDSRI), I facilitate many teacher meetings, coach new teachers, and provide support and guidance to our entire teaching staff. I have a very clear vision of the school culture we are trying to create, but after attending the Mandel Center event last November and learning about the DeLeT Longitudinal Survey, I decided that administering a similar survey to our staff would provide important information to help me move forward.

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