Section archive - Trends in Jewish Education
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Book Review: Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education. edited by Jon A. Levisohn and Jeffrey S. Kress
Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education (2018), coedited by Jon Levisohn and Jeffrey Kress, is an exhortation to our field and a strong step forward toward creating the agenda they wish to see. From the very title, Levisohn and Kress make their aim explicit: they want their audience, the scholars, policymakers, and stakeholders in Jewish education, to take the next step in improving our field by putting learning higher on our agenda. They contend that for all the efforts in the past 30 years to reinvigorate Jewish education through new organizations, materials, and pedagogical approaches, stakeholders (including researchers) have paid insufficient attention to what they call “the learning agenda.”
Updated: Sep. 09, 2020
We are getting a lot of questions about how our fields within Jewish education are doing at this unique moment. As the pandemic has continued – and the depth of its impact on life becomes more acutely felt – we continue to try and make sense of the effect this has on Jewish education and how our fields continue to adapt. We try to reflect, often in real time, on what we are experiencing, how we can support educators and families, and what the future may look like. We share insight below from each of our fields – Early Childhood Education, Part-Time Jewish Education, Day Schools, Jewish Camp, Teen Engagement and Education, and College Engagement and Education.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
One of the most certain features of the COVID-19 period is the unprecedented level of uncertainty in our lives. Uncertainty is all around us, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has heightened uncertainty over our physical and mental health, the economy, relationships, education, employment, finances, etc. The coronavirus outbreak has emphasized that life can change very quickly and very unpredictably. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing – or has already changed – our collective understanding of uncertainty in ways that we could not have imagined a mere few months ago.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
Book Review: Portraits of Jewish Learning: Viewing Contemporary Jewish Education Close-In. Editor: Diane Tickton Schuster
Portraits of Jewish Learning, edited by Diane Tickton Schuster, is a collection of portraits drawn from across the wide field of Jewish education. Portraits of Jewish Learning (PoJL) joins a small, but important, literature of portraiture in Jewish education in the past decade, including Ingall’s (2006) Down the Up Staircase, Wertheimer’s (2009) Learning in Community, and Tauber’s (2015) Open Minds, Devoted Hearts. In PoJL, most of the participating writers were deeply involved in the learning processes they illuminate, an intimate vantage point that helps to produce rich and nuanced images of learning.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
From Day School to High School: An Exploratory Study on Jewish Adolescent Girls’ Identity Development
What does it mean to be a Jewish girl today and how do Jewish adolescent girls navigate their identity? This study is exploratory and designed to understand how three girls, who are recent day school graduates, experience the process of identity development as they begin high school. While the sample is small, the study reveals new directions for looking at Jewish girls and questions that need to be asked when researching their lives. It concludes with a few suggestions for thinking about how to conduct future research with Jewish girls.
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020
The articles in this issue confirm that today’s Jewish teenagers are a generation of creative thinkers; they will not be the passive recipients of an ancient tradition. Instead, they are broadly categorized as a generation from whom Jewish wisdom, values, and tradition are most readily adapted when presented in a nondogmatic, inquiry-based approach, where their role is to internalize, make sense of, and produce their own meaning. There is a tremendous opportunity for educators and for places of Jewish learning if they adapt to these practices: a generation of Jewish teenagers is open and willing to actively participate in those journeys.
Updated: Aug. 17, 2020
Sometimes what is so obvious to us needs to be restated: Jewish day schools are places of excellence, in ways that the word “education” only begins to cover. Their excellence has never been more apparent than now, during the pandemic of COVID-19. At a time when schools everywhere are struggling to teach, to engage students, and to attend to the stress and mental health challenges of prolonged isolation and confinement, Jewish schools are rising to the fore for their ability to adapt, to persevere, to provide care and support to their students and families. With all of the uncertainty in the world, it’s therefore a good time to revisit some of the arguments for Jewish schooling, with a special appeal to parents feeling a sense of heightened instability, uncertainty, and anxiety.
Updated: Jul. 19, 2020
As teachers, we can take all of our knowledge and skill and pizzazz and bring them into the classroom in our efforts to impart knowledge and hopefully a love for the subject matter to your children. However, every teacher knows that not every "canvas" is the same. Every student brings something different to the classroom - not only in terms of their ability, but also in terms of what they are motivated to do and what they find valuable and important. Teachers can try to improve those qualities of the canvas, but the truth is that those are the things that are forged at home. Even before you think your child is paying attention, they are noticing what you consider to be important and what you value.
Updated: Jul. 13, 2020
The Jewish community, like most of the world, still does not yet know when the current crisis will end. We can, however, begin to think about parts of our life that will be different after this period than they were before. For Jewish education specifically, thinking ahead is critical; it will fall to Jewish communal and educational organizations to bring the Jewish community back to life, and to revitalize it so that it can emerge even stronger. We accept that our world will look different in a post COVID-19 era; there will be mourning for what’s lost, but new things built as well. So, I am starting to imagine a better future.
Updated: Jun. 14, 2020
Understanding How Under-Engaged Jewish Teens Self-Articulate and Self-Express Jewish Identity and Jewish Identification
This study was inspired by the abundance of literature regarding the withdrawal of non-Orthodox American Jewish teenagers from an active Jewish life. This situation has been called an “epidemic that threatens the future of American Jewry” (Ravitch, 2002b, p. 254). This study sought to answer the primary research question: How do under-engaged Jewish teens self-articulate and self-express Jewish identity and Jewish identification? Portraiture methodology was used to capture how three Atlanta-suburb teenagers articulated and expressed their Jewish identity and Jewish identification. Each of the study participants grew up attending supplemental Jewish education programs and celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, but then disengaged from organized communal Jewish education or social experiences. As current high school junior and seniors, the study participants reflected on how Judaism has shaped who they are, their interactions with Judaism in their daily lives, and the ongoing meaning they derive from being a part of the Jewish people.
Updated: Jun. 02, 2020