Havruta Inspired Pedagogy: Fostering An Ecology of Learning for Closely Studying Texts with Others

Summer, 2012

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 78, Issue 3, pages 227-253


This article presents a pedagogical framework for interpreting and discussing texts with others, “havruta inspired pedagogy.” The framework is comprised of three overlapping domains: structures, stance and practices. The authors illustrate each domain through teachers' words and classroom practices, depicting how teachers in one context work within these domains to support rich student text-learning.


This framework grows out of a year-long program of design research at a Jewish supplementary school and analysis of how teachers implemented their professional development learning in their K–7 classrooms. The pedagogical framework is applicable not only to havruta dyads, but also to small and whole group text discussions.


From the Conclusion:

"We have seen in the work of the Gesher teachers that when teachers and students become adept at the mode of havruta as framed by structure, stance, and practices, there is potential for the ecology of learning of the whole classroom to transform well beyond the time spent in actual havruta study. In a sense, the classroom learning ecology can become infused with Cindy's notion of the “spirit of havruta.” For example, as in the case of Diane's classroom, the teacher and students may adapt a havruta stance and use the practices outside of the strict havruta structure, shifting roles, fostering a feeling of responsibility to participate and build knowledge together, and creating a respect for the text as another voice in the room. This example highlights the potential implications of this framework for how educators design their learning environments, create a learning community and facilitate group text learning, even in contexts where they are not using dyad learning.


In the work we did with Gesher teachers, we provided scaffolded experiences and coaching that gave teachers practice in each domain, prior to our own recognition of these three distinct but overlapping domains. Through subsequent analysis of teachers' classroom work, we were then able to identify and explore the three domains of havruta structure, stance, and practices. Most importantly, the teachers adaptation of ideals, tools, and practices of havruta learning into their classrooms demonstrated the possibility of a havruta inspired pedagogy that has the potential for creating a rich classroom learning ecology (beyond the strict use of the havruta structure) for those interested in closely studying texts with others."

Updated: Sep. 27, 2012