We are sometimes told that practitioners have a hard time with theory. But those who are committed to nurturing a certain kind of intellectual capacity among Jewish educational practitioners—the capacity to identify and critically engage with vision in Jewish education, a capacity that we can call a “philosophical disposition”—must accept the challenge to develop ideas, questions, resources, and learning activities appropriate to that goal. In this article, Levisohn presents a study of his own teaching of novice educators in order to contribute to a conversation about how we might contribute to the development of practical intellectuals in Jewish education in various ways and in various settings.
From Michael Zeldin's Editor's Note:
"Jon A. Levisohn, in his article “Teaching Vision: Cultivating a Philosophical Disposition About Jewish Educational Practice,” also argues for the critical role of vision. He does so by studying his own teaching of the idea of “vision” to a group of aspiring teachers and by listening to their emerging understanding of vision as it relates to their own practice. He begins with the idea that “the quality of Jewish education is dependent upon the insight and intentionality of educators” which can come as a result of their understanding of vision. He argues that “covering” many visions of Jewish education would not be an appropriate way to cultivate a “philosophical disposition” among his students, which he defines as “the capacity to seek out animating ideas and critically engage with them.”
His reflections then focus on the curriculum (i.e., the specific content) for cultivating this disposition and the “subject-specific challenges” students encounter. We might understand Levisohn to be developing the pedagogic content knowledge for teaching visions of Jewish education. He identifies the goals of this pedagogy when he says, “Cultivating a philosophical disposition should entail not only asking questions about practice, even basic and fundamental questions. It should also entail developing more nuanced and more sophisticated answers to those questions.”