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I am passionate about this subject, nowhere more than in Jewish studies in Jewish day schools. You’ll argue that if we don’t give kids grades, they won’t take their classes seriously. I argue that most kids aren’t taking bad teaching seriously anyway. They’re just throwing away a love of subject to something more worthy, where they feel good about themselves. A Talmud teacher confessed to me that he had an excellent student but gave him a B-plus because he often came late to class. Not surprisingly, that student disengaged from Talmud study altogether. He saw his teacher as a person with the wrong priorities. Think about it. Most of us can’t remember what we learned years ago. We remember feelings about certain teachers that got transmitted to the subjects they taught. Associations linger.
Updated: May. 30, 2018
Setting out on a new venture in Jewish education, I was interested in the hard-earned wisdom of notable professionals in and around the field. As part of the work of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership, we seek to bring academics and practitioners into conversation on the educational issues that matter most. To do this well, it’s critical to identify today’s educational landscape. To that end, I spent nearly a year interviewing professionals in and around the universe of Jewish education, formally and informally. I had initially intended to save the formal responses in a personal collection to direct my own work. But there was too much richness and depth to keep the responses to myself. While the conversations continue, clear patterns emerged.
Updated: May. 03, 2018
What would happen, I wonder, if we did a better job bridging the academy and the community, convening spaces where greater interaction rather than token interaction becomes the norm? This is what CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Leadership and Learning, is attempting with a new initiative at the University of Pennsylvania that brings rabbis and academics together to create a bridge of ideas. That’s what I’m trying to do in the arena of Jewish education with a new initiative at George Washington University: the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership. In the future we hope to develop new graduate degree programs in Jewish education, a distinguishing feature of which will be close partnerships with local and national Jewish organizations. A central tenet of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, where the Mayberg Center is housed, is engagement between researchers, educators and communities in which teaching and learning happens. We also plan to offer a certificate in Jewish literacy, aimed primarily at Jewish communal professionals, as the only “non-Jewish” university to do so. The center will convene annual conferences to tackle areas where integrating research with what’s happening in the trenches can change the way we live and work.
Updated: Jan. 25, 2017