R. Yehoshua ben Gamla’s innovation, which may have saved countless Jewish children from ignorance, has been the flashpoint for many minor internal conflicts. What do we do when the formal Jewish learning undermines long-standing family traditions? How do those with formal Jewish authority react when the families and the community seek to undermine that authority? The questions are not limited to religion, they extend to almost every aspect of life. Are schools to function as societal thought-leaders and change agents or is their mandate to maintain the norms and standards of its constituents and the community it serves?
When we “zoom” in from the macro-questions to how it plays out on an individual level, the parents stand front and center. What is/could/should be the role that they play in their children’s education? What does a productive or healthy relationship between the parent and school or parent and teacher look like, and how can that be nurtured? And how is COVID creating chaos and opportunity particularly in this area – with students attending classes remotely and parents being thrust into roles they largely sub-contracted to others long ago?
To explore the role of parents we sought to include in this issue a diverse range of perspectives. They include day schools, supplementary schools, and stand-alone programs; school leaders, teachers, parents, guidance counselors, and even home-schoolers; early childhood, elementary school, and high school. One set of articles consists of abridged and edited transcripts of interviews we conducted, and we include a roundtable discussion of our own staff at The Lookstein Center.
System Solvers by Shmuel Feld
A New Pedagogy for Parents and Children in Bar/Bat/Benai/B’ Mitzvah Education by Daniel Brenner
Educating All of Our Children: Community Support for Homeschooling in The Jewish Community by Suri Kinzbrunner
Parents Are Our Partners: Important Lessons from The Pandemic for Jewish Educators by Cherie Koller-Fox
A Parent’s Perspective by Nicky Newfield
Conversation with a High School Teacher, Olivia Friedman by Jewish Educational Leadership
Conversation with a Kindergarten Teacher, Elisa Marcus by Jewish Educational Leadership
Conversation with a Parent Volunteer, Dr. Gita Lisker by Jewish Educational Leadership