Section archive - Formal Education
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Worth Knowing: Talmud Study and the Intellectual Values of High School Students at Liberal Jewish Day Schools
What do Jewish day school students believe constitutes good understanding and worthwhile learning in the context of their encounter with rabbinic texts in the classroom? This article shares findings from an interview study of Jewish day school students in grades 9 through 12 regarding their attitudes toward the study of Talmud. I argue that high school students’ estimations of the value of Talmud study are shaped, not only by individually held tastes, talents, and commitments, but also by a set of shared intellectual values. These values, related to their beliefs about the purposes of learning and what good learning should accomplish for the learner, develop in the context of their schools and communities and frame how students set goals for and assess their own understanding of Talmud.
Updated: Mar. 04, 2020
The development of non-Orthodox Jewish day schools in Los Angeles in the 1970s to 1990s can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the city’s geography, the deterioration of public education, court-ordered busing that began in the 1970s, and strong rabbinic personalities. Yet, as elementary day schools proliferated throughout the city, educators struggled to keep secondary day schools afloat. Contributing factors to the challenges secondary schools faced included sprawling city geography, lack of communal support, and parental desire to send children to established high schools with proven track records for college preparation and admission.
Updated: Mar. 04, 2020
More than 6,600 students were learning Hebrew in a public-school or charter-school setting in 2018 in the US, according to a report issued by CASJE, the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education, and George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Updated: Feb. 12, 2020
In the course of my current Mandel Center-sponsored research project, Hasidic Learning, I have observed an assessment technique that takes the benefits of frequent low-stakes assessment and adds to it the benefits of cognitive clinical interviews. The clinical interview is a technique used by researchers to investigate what students understand about a given topic. It is typically semi-structured; that is, it has some anchor questions that are used in all interviews, but no fixed formula throughout. This lack of rigid structure is a powerful tool in the researcher’s arsenal, allowing him or her to get into the nitty-gritty of student knowledge.
Updated: Jan. 28, 2020
On a recent Monday morning on the Upper West Side, a group of about 20 men and women sat in pairs, hunched over enormous Jewish legal tomes and dissecting their contents in animated conversation. It was a typical scene at Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva that has run full-time study programs for young adults in New York City since 2007. Less typical was the mundane topic of their study: whether it is permissible to use a dishwasher for both meat and milk dishes in successive cycles. It’s the kind of question typically asked of synagogue rabbis.
Updated: Jan. 13, 2020
A long-standing assumption at the heart of synagogue Hebrew education is that if our children learned to read English, it should not be that hard for them to learn to read Hebrew fluently. Yet, even with four years or more of “Hebrew school,” young learners struggle with prayers and blessings. The culprit is often identified as lessened days/hours of learning time or competing family priorities. But, consistent and well-replicated reading research offers us another possibility – countless studies conclude that reading fluency is “… a by-product of having instant access to most or all of the words on the page.”
Updated: Jan. 08, 2020
NETA/Bishvil Ha-Ivrit was initiated in 1999 at the urging of AVI CHAI Foundation Trustee Dr. Ruth Wisse, with early implementation by Senior Program Officer Rachel Mohl Abrahams. It created a comprehensive Hebrew language curriculum and offered ongoing professional development for Jewish day school teachers in grades 7-12. Founding Director Hilla Kobliner came with a stellar reputation as a consummate Hebrew language expert and master pedagogue. An expert and dedicated staff was stationed at NETA/Bishvil Ha-Ivrit’s North American home at Hebrew College in Boston. The staff has planted and nurtured the seeds that have made the program flourish and bloom in the years since.
Updated: Dec. 11, 2019
At Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, we decided to provide schools with a panoramic view of the field, presenting the range of areas in which day school administrators turn in order to work on improving their Hebrew programs. The result, “Thought Leadership: Hebrew Education,” presents six levers that schools use to strengthen Hebrew learning: staff, time, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and mission. Each of these areas are ripe for reflection and growth, with new programs and initiatives arising year by year.
Updated: Oct. 07, 2019
This study set out to design and implement an approach to Tanakh education that would help students become expert decoders of the Biblical Hebrew text as they became expert interpreters of it. The goal, following existing, research-based best instructional practices from literacy, was to create a curriculum in which language skills and meaning making were intimately connected. This paper describes the curriculum and its implementation.
Updated: Oct. 02, 2019
‘Marching at the Speed of the Slowest Man’: The Facilitation and Regulation of Student Autonomy in a Pluralist Jewish Day School
Based on interviews and focus groups with parents, students and senior staff, this article investigates how England’s one pluralist Jewish secondary school has, in contrast, attempted to accommodate various forms of Jewish practice and facilitate students’ agency to determine their Jewish identities as desired. It reveals that students enjoy opportunities to actively negotiate Judaism, but that their autonomy is not without limits, and issues inherent to pluralism exist in executing an ethos accommodative of diverse, personalized expressions of Jewishness.
Updated: Sep. 25, 2019