Section archive - Formal Education
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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
Israel will include study of the persecution of North African Jewry under the Nazis as part of mandatory history curriculum in high schools. Study of the Holocaust as a historical subject was removed from the mandatory section of the national matriculation exam four years ago by then-education minister Shai Piron, though teachers were allowed to assign the Holocaust as a research project. Academics and history teachers publicly criticized the move. Former education minister Naftali Bennett reinstated the subject on the bagrut matriculation exam shortly before he was fired from his position in early June by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Updated: Sep. 11, 2019
This exploratory case study examined how two teachers used a comparative approach to teach genocide histories in a Holocaust Literature elective course. Through interviews and observations, we studied how the teachers guided students in comparing genocides as well as how they used survivor testimonies in their instruction.
Updated: Aug. 27, 2019
A Sacred Language or the Language of the Bible: A Curricular Study of Jewish Hebrew Bible Instruction
This curriculum studies article uncovers how ideological commitments often, without acknowledgment, determine instruction. Through a comparison of two popular Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) curricula, both focused on the same subject, one emerging out of a fundamentalist religious worldview and the other a progressive, modernist religious worldview, curricular nuances are explored and theorized. Ultimately, this article argues that small differences in instruction serve to shape radically different conceptions of religious activity.
Updated: Aug. 06, 2019
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