Section archive - Formal Education
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When I was an educator in a Jewish Day School in Toronto, Canada, I was given the task of leading the Tefilla for grades 6, 7 & 8. My supervisor made it very clear that the Tefilla was not nearly at the standard they desired. I realized that the system was not working. We were trying to enforce the classic Synagogue system of Tefilla for students that clearly were unengaged and uninspired. I incorporated my Tefilla system of shortening the Tefilla by half and saying the entire Tefilla Out Loud, and in a few weeks the level of Tefilla had improved significantly. Most importantly, I managed to change the entire culture of Tefilla, making it important again! This experience gave me the incentive and platform to design The Tefilla Project.
Updated: Jun. 01, 2016
‘Students Get Bogged Down’: How Religious Israeli Elementary Teachers View Problems and Solutions in Bible Teaching
Bible teachers in contemporary society confront serious problems related to the nature of the biblical text and the socio-cultural context of their teaching. This study, based on semi-structured interviews, examines the problems that five expert religious Israeli elementary school teachers encounter in their teaching and the solutions they employ. Our findings show two major domains of pedagogic issues: unfamiliar biblical linguistics and problematic content. Teachers reported student difficulties in understanding biblical Hebrew. Problematic content includes irrelevant topics, emotionally laden material, and age inappropriate issues.
Updated: May. 22, 2016
Teaching Jewish holidays in secular kindergartens in Israel is a major part of the early childhood education curriculum and often revolves around myths of heroism. The telling of these stories frequently evokes strong nationalist feelings of identification with fighting as they describe survival wars and conflicts in which the heroes are mostly male fighters and Jewish victory over the enemy is celebrated. Thus the teaching of the holidays hidden agenda strengthens ceremonial, patriarchal and national ideas. This paper proposes a number of educational alternatives in accordance with critical feminist pedagogy and Jewish values of social justice. The article focuses on three major holidays: Hanukah, Purim and Passover. It shows in each one of them the conventional reading of the holiday which is the traditional way it is being taught in secular kindergartens, the holiday through a critical feminist pedagogy lens and application in early childhood classrooms.
Updated: May. 15, 2016
Gleanings is the ejournal of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Ever since the 1992 National Jewish Population Study, many of us—educators, clergy, philanthropists—have been engaged in heroic efforts to revitalize congregational education. While we have had made notable progress for which we should be rightly proud, this field has remained stubbornly resistant to deep transformation. This past October, The Davidson School of JTS brought together a group of scholars, rabbis, educators, and change practitioners from across denominations and North America to learn together and begin to design an innovative path forward. Out of this gathering came a renewed sense of hope, a desire for collaboration among diverse institutions, and a revitalized sense of transformative purpose. In this issue of Gleanings, we present a selection of the papers that participants wrote for our deliberation which stimulated rich dialogue. Included first in this issue is a nascent, overarching vision of education toward covenantal community, which emerged during the gathering.
Updated: May. 10, 2016
Room on the Bench: A Project of the Luria Academy of Brooklyn works to transform the experience of students with special needs and their families into one that fully integrates them as members of the Jewish day school community, collaborating with schools to create an inclusive environment through modeling best practices, online guides, and consulting services. Room on the Bench works within existing frameworks and engages teachers, outside service providers, and parents, to create more integrated schools. The project is grounded in the belief that students with special needs belong in our classrooms, at our play dates, and at our birthday parties, as full members of Jewish Day School communities.
Updated: May. 04, 2016
This design experiment in prayer education for Jewish students was motivated by a current educational concern: educating for spirituality and religious practice. Educators are tasked with formally nurturing spirituality (Wright 2001). It is known that attitude to religious observance may change during adolescence (Hyde 1963), thus attitude to prayer needs attention. The effects/consequences of prayer understanding reach beyond religious practice itself, to encompass issues of faith, identity, spiritual development and well-being (Sigel 2009). Here quantitative and qualitative analysis is used to measure the effects of a tefillah (prayer and its understanding) course on student attitudes to prayer.
Updated: Apr. 20, 2016
The article presents research from a practitioner research study conducted in a non-denominational Jewish secondary school. As part of the study, students created artistic works based on chapter 12 of the biblical book of Numbers. Four of the twelve student groups created works that directly engaged with their conceptions of God as represented in the text while also making direct links to God's role in their lives. Learning through the arts can be a powerful tool that teachers can draw on in order to provide space for students to reflect on their understanding of God and as a way to engage students in conversations about God.
Updated: Apr. 20, 2016
The National Mentoring Program was created in 2009 by the Division for Gifted and Outstanding Students in the Ministry of Education and is implemented by the Szold Institute. The program aims to cultivate future leaders in Israel. Highly gifted 10th and 11th graders are matched with top rate professionals in students’ areas of interest. They work for a year on a project of mutual interest. Forty-four per cent of students live in geographical or social periphery.
Updated: Apr. 13, 2016
Reading Sacred Texts in the Classroom: The Alignment Between Students and Their Teacher’s Interpretive Stances When Reading the Hebrew Bible
This study investigated the voices of students interpreting Hebrew Bible texts in one fourth-grade classroom. Through think-alouds on the Biblical text with each student, exit interviews, teacher interviews, and classroom observations, this study found that those students whose interpretive stances were more aligned with the teacher’s were given greater voice in classroom text discussions than students whose interpretive stances were misaligned. Drawing on neo-Vygotskian education theory, I argue that Jewish educators need to take students’ interpretive stances seriously; attempting to force students into an interpretive framework that is set by the teacher will only undermine student learning and engagement.
Updated: Mar. 30, 2016
The Philosophies, Contents and Pedagogies of Environmental Education Programs in 10 Israeli Elementary Schools
In this study, our aim was to understand how environmental education has been implemented in Israeli elementary schools. We selected ten schools that had implemented Education for Sustainability programs and analyzed their mission statements and curriculum documents. We observed each school’s activities and interviewed teachers. Our analysis shows ambiguity with respect to the rationales and the theoretical foundations of the programs
Updated: Mar. 30, 2016