In Sowing the Seeds of Character, Judd Kruger Levingston delivers far beyond the typical fare in the field of moral education literature. His work is fundamentally descriptive, offering rich data that engages the real lives of students. Assuming the role of ethnographer and using Sara Lawrence Lightfoot's Portraiture approach, Levingston's primary goal is to describe and categorize what he witnesses in approximately 10 schools of different faith traditions and student populations.
The foundation that Levingston has laid through his focus on teenagers' relationship to tradition and authority has particular relevance for Jewish educators. The questions of community, religion, and personal choice will ring particularly true for anyone who has worked in a Jewish school and truly listened to students.
Levingston dedicates his opening chapter to the concept of asking questions. His choice to paint a portrait rather than prescribe a pedagogy enables his readers to use this book to ask their own questions and catalyze their own growth. Parents and educators who take a virtual tour through the schools and classrooms that Levingston describes will be motivated to take a fresh look at the nexus of transmission of values and personal meaning-making that is so central to the goal of Jewish education.