Section archive - Formal Education
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When the Truth Is Not What Actually Happened: The Epistemology of Religious Truth in Orthodox Jewish Bible Study
This paper uses data from Jewish religious chumash (Bible) study to examine how students’ conceptions of biblical truth are grounded in the particular forms of chumash study they engage in. Using data from clinical interviews with Orthodox Jewish Bible students, we argue that, in relation to the biblical text, questions of truth are functionally meaningless; that is, they are irrelevant to the implicit epistemology embedded in the practice of chumash study. Because of this, students were unable to coherently answer questions about the truth-value of the biblical text, even while engaging in sophisticated reasoning about its literary character. This has implications for how religious schools and teachers approach religious study of traditional texts.
Updated: Jul. 17, 2019
Studying Sacred Texts as a Pathway to Positive Youth Development: Middle School Students Read Hebrew Bible
In many religious education classrooms, the meaning of a sacred text is treated as something stable and authoritative. A teacher’s job is to transmit that meaning to students. This study reports on a year-long intervention conducted in a seventh grade Hebrew Bible classroom in which students were asked to find their own meaning in the biblical text. The study found that religious text classrooms can offer a unique opportunity to support positive youth development when an effective interpretive community is created.
Updated: Jul. 17, 2019
Book Review: Dynamics of Teaching and Learning Modern Hebrew as an Additional Language: Using Hebrew as a Means of Instruction and Acquisition. Author: Yona Gilead
In a field where teaching methods do not generally stem from published studies but rather from years of experiential knowledge of best practices shared among teachers, Yona Gilead’s Dynamics of Teaching and Learning Modern Hebrew as an Additional Language is groundbreaking first for the mere fact that it is one of the only empirical research pieces published in a mainstream venue that maps and records the Hebrew classroom routine at a micro level.
Updated: May. 15, 2019
Drawing on interview data from a practitioner research study involving secondary students in a Jewish school, the following paper presents students’ explanations for why learning through the arts is a valuable and important classroom experience. The explanations offered by students reflected a strong self-awareness and understanding of their own learning styles and how the arts complimented their studies and challenged them in new ways. In addition to hearing how students appreciate learning through the arts, the data also suggests that teachers and other school stakeholders should find ways to provide opportunities for students to contribute to conversations about pedagogical practice
Updated: Apr. 04, 2019
There is a change brewing in congregations across North America, one that is dramatically shifting the narrative of children’s experiences with Hebrew learning and Jewish education. Education directors have begun sharing stories of renewed energy in their buildings and of children who are excited to learn, especially Hebrew. This change is not about tweaking the traditional Hebrew learning model in part-time/synagogue settings. We have done that for years and it hasn’t worked. This is not about increasing Hebrew learning time. Over the years, “more of the same” has closed our students’ hearts to Hebrew as they spend four to six years on low-level prayer decoding/reading practice and review. This IS about changing foundational Hebrew learning assumptions that have shaped Hebrew education in synagogues for decades.
Updated: Apr. 03, 2019
Though Holocaust education is of critical importance in the world of Jewish Day Schools, little research has been conducted about it. The purpose of this paper is to answer some critical questions about how they teach the Holocaust in Jewish Day Schools–the who, what, when, where, how, and why questions. Additionally, comparisons are made between how the Holocaust is taught in America’s public schools versus Jewish Day Schools.
Updated: Mar. 20, 2019
This article aims to describe the development of a curriculum framework for prayer in UK centrist orthodox Jewish primary schools. This process began in 2011 and continues in an ongoing way. This is the first time that there has been a communal effort across Jewish schools that focuses on this area of the curriculum.
Updated: Mar. 07, 2019
Applying Montessori Principles in China: The Impact of Being a Situational Minority in a Particularistic Jewish Heritage School
The aim of the research is to investigate a Montessori pedagogic approach, enabling a Jewish school to be part of the Chinese international-school system, while fostering Jewish identity. We conducted semistructured interviews with principals (2), teachers (8), parents (12), and students (10) and recorded class observations (8) over two visits. The analysis employed a grounded theory approach using a constant comparative method. The main result was that Montessori principles enabled the school to foster a strong particularistic Jewish identity for this situational minority while also developing a broad understanding of the host (Chinese) culture.
Updated: Feb. 20, 2019
This article presents original qualitative research applying paired text study, havruta learning, to the secular college classroom. I adapted this method to a first-year seminar in a public university and found that students perceived that havruta improved their abilities to verbalize their understandings through reading text aloud and debating one another, opened their eyes to new perspectives, engaged them in argumentation, and empowered them to take charge of learning.
Updated: Feb. 20, 2019
This study examined the experiences of teachers in a Jewish early childhood center implementing constructivist theory and pedagogy through a Reggio Emilia-inspired model. Constructivist practices were described through interviews, surveys, classroom documentation, and observations.
Updated: Jan. 30, 2019