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Rabbi Ramon Widmonte

January

2022

Frameworks 2 Copy Copy Copy

Change the text and make it your own. Click here to begin editing.

Assessment, Camp Education, Curriculum, Educational Frameworks, Educational Psychology, Educational Theorists, Educator Training, Experiential Education, Jewish Day School, Jewish Studies / Kodesh, Leadership, Management, Meta-structures in Organisations, Pedagogy, Physical Settings for Education, Practically Applied Research, Theoretical Research, Jewish Practise

KEYWORDS (STANDARD)

Community of Practise, Learner-centred Framework, Scholar Academic Framework, Assimilation, Jewish Identity, Apartheid, Teach-to-test, Jewish Survival, Community Education, Matric System, Intermarriage

ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS (UNIQUE)

The research examined Traditional Jewish High Schools which focus on preparing students for exams to gain university entrance (for example the South African Matric system); such schools spend between 5-8% of their available teaching time on formal and informal Jewish education (excluding Hebrew). Every educational institution is dominated by an overarching educational Framework, which is often implicit. One of these, the Scholar Academic Framework, focuses heavily on testing and grading and it is this which dominates such high schools; further, this focus forces all school activities, including Jewish Studies, into an implicit and explicit subordinate position, and into the Scholar Academic paradigm.

The Jewish educators felt that the requirement to conform to such a system ensures that their Jewish Education goals were not achieved. These goals are aimed primarily at students’ “Jewish identity”, and preventing their intermarriage and assimilation. Because the dominant Scholar Academic system elevates academic achievement, the educators felt that they could not address the non-academic needs of their students, which is where their Jewish education goals lay. In Apartheid South Africa, where communities were held apart, Jewish education was carried out primarily by the Community, which transmitted core values and attitudes. Post-apartheid all these goals have been shifted to schools which are ill-structured to achieve such attitudinal education. The educators suggested that they needed to shift to a Learner Centred model to achieve their goals. The author suggests that a Community of Practise model would be even better.

SUMMARY

The JS educators felt hat South Africa is following a socio-cultural trajectory where it is transitioning from a COP, to models resembling other diasporas; and in this process, the Jewish education system is losing the vital part played by family and community in formation of identity and value systems. In South Africa, the COP lasted longer due to apartheid, but post-1994, this has rapidly changed and the Jewish education system has not changed to match the new needs.

The educators’ primary goals (which they avowed to be achievable and practical) were to ensure their students married Jews; but the former believed that intermarriage was on the rise, and that they were not achieving that goal.

JS is inserted into the dominant Scholar Academic (SAc) educational framework; and the JS educators broadly felt that this insertion inhibited their Jewish identity and role-modelling goals. 

All the educators felt that repositioning JS was necessary; suggesting approaches which were less imposing of religious, national and ethnic canon, and rather allowed students more leeway to navigate their own paths; nevertheless, the educators were at a loss at how to balance this trend towards an empowering, Learner-Centred approach, without losing their and the school’s authority to designate legitimate values and behaviour, and to transmit those.

All the educators prioritised their educational functions in terms of role-modelling and mentoring. Undergirding this was the sobering reality that most staff in JS teams lack formal educational and Jewish Studies training, as well as a significant pay gap between Jewish education and other careers, which places an upper limit on what teams can achieve.

Many of the suggestions made for changes entailed (explicitly or implicitly) a shift toward a Community of Practise (COP) framework for Jewish education, but most formal educators were yet to see a working model of such a framework, and thus were hesitant to endorse it; experiential educators felt that their programming did create COPs and that they worked.

FINDINGS

School Executive, Lay Leadership

Educators have differing views on the school’s goals and they felt that the framework approach was a powerful tool to define clear goals for themselves and their colleagues; it should be considered as a planning and communication tool.

Educators have significant insight into conflicts between high-level strategy and daily activity in the classroom. Gaining their input is a vital step for better achievement of JS goals.

Even where educators felt it was practically possibly to influence the choices of their students in favour of marrying Jewish, they felt a shift in JS framework was necessary. A variety of shifts could be piloted and the results compared to a regular stream:

Assessment alternatives could be explored, such as project-based options or even doing away with assessment-marks completely.

A study comparing students’ JS and other averages will shed light on the actual efforts invested in the SAc JS process.

Possible changes to JS venues and timetable should be examined: combining all JS periods into one larger time once a week, conducted in a purpose-built environment might work better.

Educator remuneration plays a limiting role on the viability of Jewish education as a career goal; this requires a serious look.

The current cohort of educators could be aided significantly through comprehensive training in education and pedagogy, as well as in subject-specific knowledge.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Jewish studies curricula and pedagogy in Jewish Day schools, and in particular, within Traditional Jewish  Day Schools. 

Israel education and any other Jewish education which explicitly seeks to engage with students’ value  systems and attitudes. 

Utilising Educational Frameworks as a way to communicate schools’ Mission and Vision to all stakeholders. 

Leadership structures and roles. 

Innovative teaching strategies and pedagogies for High schools. 

Teacher training in all of the above. 

Hebrew education in Jewish Day Schools.

RESEARCH AREAS CONSIDERED FOR FURTHER PARTNERSHIP

How do Jewish studies teachers and managers, in an Orthodox, traditional South African Jewish high  school, understand the impact of their school’s educational framework on the goals of their Jewish studies  classes? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

How do JS (Jewish studies) teachers or managers (referred to as “educators” from here on) define  their personal and their school’s goals for Jewish Studies? In particular, to what extent do “Jewish  identity” or “Jewish survival/continuity” goals dominate? 

What (if any) educational framework do educators use to understand and/or implement their own  and their school’s goals and processes? 

What are the similarities and differences between educators’ understandings of the actual  framework of general and Jewish education implemented in the school? 

If the educators feel that there is a conflict between the school’s overarching educational framework  and the goals of Jewish Studies, how do they feel it could be resolved? 

What do the educators view as the ideal framework for Jewish education in the school? In particular,  do they feel a Community of Practice educational framework is a better fit for JS? 

Do the teachers have suggestions of changes to framework, content, curriculum, pedagogy, delivery,  context, immersivity, staff development, staff recruitment or any other aspect of the school which  would better meet the school’s educational goals (broad or fine) for the Jewish Studies classes? Do  these suggestions entail a change in framework? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

Traditional Jewish High Schools (TJHs) in South Africa are dominated by a Scholar Academic (SAc)  educational framework and that this is the reason that JS in High schools is taught and assessed the way  that it is; and that further, this framework is in dissonance with the Jewish educational goals of the same  schools, and those of their educators. 

SECONDARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Most Jewish educators in TJHs do not ascribe to any formal educational framework, but rather  conceptualise the goals using “Jewish identity/survival” metaphors. This may be due to the low  levels of educators’ academic training as discussed in the literature review. 

These educators do not conceptualise their school’s having a framework, nor of its impact on JS. 

On the basis of their own description of their goals, many of these Jewish educators believe that  their Jewish studies teaching activities undermine or simply do not achieve their own formulated  goals (the school’s and/or their own).

Jewish educators do have ideas for alternative teaching activities and structures for the school  which would better achieve these educational goals, but these changes may indicate a required  shift in educational framework. 

Many educators in a TJH would concede that Jewish education is more suited to a COP  (Community of Practise) model (Lave and Wenger, 1991). 

In traditional Jewish societies, Jewish identity and much of Jewish knowledge were nurtured by a  literal COP; which cannot be replaced by any other educational framework. 

The assessment, teaching and learning methods used in SAc Institutions undermine the goals  (knowledge and identity) of Jewish education because JS is not an Academic discipline and is  being forced to comply with an incongruous enveloping structure. 

SAc Institutions are not built to nurture affective value systems, beliefs or any form of identity.  This is why we see a constant decline in markers such as support for Israel, which are not overtly  religious; because the family/community is no longer providing the base identity, and teaching  these subjects in a SAc school cannot significantly impact affect. 

Jewish day schools which create categories like “kodesh” are doing so in order to create an  alternative educational framework to encompass their Jewish Education, which is perhaps why  Orthodox Jewish day schools score better on the Jewish identity basket (as per Literature  Review).  

Camps, informal education programming and gap years similarly have bigger impacts on the  Jewish identity basket (as per Literature Review) – because they are operating under different  frameworks, in particular, COPs. 

Particular elements within each educational framework would contribute positively to Jewish  education goals in a TJH, and could be successfully employed, even with a SAC educational  framework, but educators would need the training to achieve this as well as slight adaptations to  the framework, for example, venue changes.

Rabbi Ramon Widmonte

January

2022

Frameworks 2 Copy Copy

Change the text and make it your own. Click here to begin editing.

Assessment, Camp Education, Curriculum, Educational Frameworks, Educational Psychology, Educational Theorists, Educator Training, Experiential Education, Jewish Day School, Jewish Studies / Kodesh, Leadership, Management, Meta-structures in Organisations, Pedagogy, Physical Settings for Education, Practically Applied Research, Theoretical Research, Jewish Practise

KEYWORDS (STANDARD)

Community of Practise, Learner-centred Framework, Scholar Academic Framework, Assimilation, Jewish Identity, Apartheid, Teach-to-test, Jewish Survival, Community Education, Matric System, Intermarriage

ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS (UNIQUE)

The research examined Traditional Jewish High Schools which focus on preparing students for exams to gain university entrance (for example the South African Matric system); such schools spend between 5-8% of their available teaching time on formal and informal Jewish education (excluding Hebrew). Every educational institution is dominated by an overarching educational Framework, which is often implicit. One of these, the Scholar Academic Framework, focuses heavily on testing and grading and it is this which dominates such high schools; further, this focus forces all school activities, including Jewish Studies, into an implicit and explicit subordinate position, and into the Scholar Academic paradigm.

The Jewish educators felt that the requirement to conform to such a system ensures that their Jewish Education goals were not achieved. These goals are aimed primarily at students’ “Jewish identity”, and preventing their intermarriage and assimilation. Because the dominant Scholar Academic system elevates academic achievement, the educators felt that they could not address the non-academic needs of their students, which is where their Jewish education goals lay. In Apartheid South Africa, where communities were held apart, Jewish education was carried out primarily by the Community, which transmitted core values and attitudes. Post-apartheid all these goals have been shifted to schools which are ill-structured to achieve such attitudinal education. The educators suggested that they needed to shift to a Learner Centred model to achieve their goals. The author suggests that a Community of Practise model would be even better.

SUMMARY

The JS educators felt hat South Africa is following a socio-cultural trajectory where it is transitioning from a COP, to models resembling other diasporas; and in this process, the Jewish education system is losing the vital part played by family and community in formation of identity and value systems. In South Africa, the COP lasted longer due to apartheid, but post-1994, this has rapidly changed and the Jewish education system has not changed to match the new needs.

The educators’ primary goals (which they avowed to be achievable and practical) were to ensure their students married Jews; but the former believed that intermarriage was on the rise, and that they were not achieving that goal.

JS is inserted into the dominant Scholar Academic (SAc) educational framework; and the JS educators broadly felt that this insertion inhibited their Jewish identity and role-modelling goals. 

All the educators felt that repositioning JS was necessary; suggesting approaches which were less imposing of religious, national and ethnic canon, and rather allowed students more leeway to navigate their own paths; nevertheless, the educators were at a loss at how to balance this trend towards an empowering, Learner-Centred approach, without losing their and the school’s authority to designate legitimate values and behaviour, and to transmit those.

All the educators prioritised their educational functions in terms of role-modelling and mentoring. Undergirding this was the sobering reality that most staff in JS teams lack formal educational and Jewish Studies training, as well as a significant pay gap between Jewish education and other careers, which places an upper limit on what teams can achieve.

Many of the suggestions made for changes entailed (explicitly or implicitly) a shift toward a Community of Practise (COP) framework for Jewish education, but most formal educators were yet to see a working model of such a framework, and thus were hesitant to endorse it; experiential educators felt that their programming did create COPs and that they worked.

FINDINGS

School Executive, Lay Leadership

Educators have differing views on the school’s goals and they felt that the framework approach was a powerful tool to define clear goals for themselves and their colleagues; it should be considered as a planning and communication tool.

Educators have significant insight into conflicts between high-level strategy and daily activity in the classroom. Gaining their input is a vital step for better achievement of JS goals.

Even where educators felt it was practically possibly to influence the choices of their students in favour of marrying Jewish, they felt a shift in JS framework was necessary. A variety of shifts could be piloted and the results compared to a regular stream:

Assessment alternatives could be explored, such as project-based options or even doing away with assessment-marks completely.

A study comparing students’ JS and other averages will shed light on the actual efforts invested in the SAc JS process.

Possible changes to JS venues and timetable should be examined: combining all JS periods into one larger time once a week, conducted in a purpose-built environment might work better.

Educator remuneration plays a limiting role on the viability of Jewish education as a career goal; this requires a serious look.

The current cohort of educators could be aided significantly through comprehensive training in education and pedagogy, as well as in subject-specific knowledge.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Jewish studies curricula and pedagogy in Jewish Day schools, and in particular, within Traditional Jewish  Day Schools. 

Israel education and any other Jewish education which explicitly seeks to engage with students’ value  systems and attitudes. 

Utilising Educational Frameworks as a way to communicate schools’ Mission and Vision to all stakeholders. 

Leadership structures and roles. 

Innovative teaching strategies and pedagogies for High schools. 

Teacher training in all of the above. 

Hebrew education in Jewish Day Schools.

RESEARCH AREAS CONSIDERED FOR FURTHER PARTNERSHIP

How do Jewish studies teachers and managers, in an Orthodox, traditional South African Jewish high  school, understand the impact of their school’s educational framework on the goals of their Jewish studies  classes? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

How do JS (Jewish studies) teachers or managers (referred to as “educators” from here on) define  their personal and their school’s goals for Jewish Studies? In particular, to what extent do “Jewish  identity” or “Jewish survival/continuity” goals dominate? 

What (if any) educational framework do educators use to understand and/or implement their own  and their school’s goals and processes? 

What are the similarities and differences between educators’ understandings of the actual  framework of general and Jewish education implemented in the school? 

If the educators feel that there is a conflict between the school’s overarching educational framework  and the goals of Jewish Studies, how do they feel it could be resolved? 

What do the educators view as the ideal framework for Jewish education in the school? In particular,  do they feel a Community of Practice educational framework is a better fit for JS? 

Do the teachers have suggestions of changes to framework, content, curriculum, pedagogy, delivery,  context, immersivity, staff development, staff recruitment or any other aspect of the school which  would better meet the school’s educational goals (broad or fine) for the Jewish Studies classes? Do  these suggestions entail a change in framework? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

Traditional Jewish High Schools (TJHs) in South Africa are dominated by a Scholar Academic (SAc)  educational framework and that this is the reason that JS in High schools is taught and assessed the way  that it is; and that further, this framework is in dissonance with the Jewish educational goals of the same  schools, and those of their educators. 

SECONDARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Most Jewish educators in TJHs do not ascribe to any formal educational framework, but rather  conceptualise the goals using “Jewish identity/survival” metaphors. This may be due to the low  levels of educators’ academic training as discussed in the literature review. 

These educators do not conceptualise their school’s having a framework, nor of its impact on JS. 

On the basis of their own description of their goals, many of these Jewish educators believe that  their Jewish studies teaching activities undermine or simply do not achieve their own formulated  goals (the school’s and/or their own).

Jewish educators do have ideas for alternative teaching activities and structures for the school  which would better achieve these educational goals, but these changes may indicate a required  shift in educational framework. 

Many educators in a TJH would concede that Jewish education is more suited to a COP  (Community of Practise) model (Lave and Wenger, 1991). 

In traditional Jewish societies, Jewish identity and much of Jewish knowledge were nurtured by a  literal COP; which cannot be replaced by any other educational framework. 

The assessment, teaching and learning methods used in SAc Institutions undermine the goals  (knowledge and identity) of Jewish education because JS is not an Academic discipline and is  being forced to comply with an incongruous enveloping structure. 

SAc Institutions are not built to nurture affective value systems, beliefs or any form of identity.  This is why we see a constant decline in markers such as support for Israel, which are not overtly  religious; because the family/community is no longer providing the base identity, and teaching  these subjects in a SAc school cannot significantly impact affect. 

Jewish day schools which create categories like “kodesh” are doing so in order to create an  alternative educational framework to encompass their Jewish Education, which is perhaps why  Orthodox Jewish day schools score better on the Jewish identity basket (as per Literature  Review).  

Camps, informal education programming and gap years similarly have bigger impacts on the  Jewish identity basket (as per Literature Review) – because they are operating under different  frameworks, in particular, COPs. 

Particular elements within each educational framework would contribute positively to Jewish  education goals in a TJH, and could be successfully employed, even with a SAC educational  framework, but educators would need the training to achieve this as well as slight adaptations to  the framework, for example, venue changes.

Rabbi Ramon Widmonte

January

2022

Frameworks 2 Copy

Change the text and make it your own. Click here to begin editing.

Assessment, Camp Education, Curriculum, Educational Frameworks, Educational Psychology, Educational Theorists, Educator Training, Experiential Education, Jewish Day School, Jewish Studies / Kodesh, Leadership, Management, Meta-structures in Organisations, Pedagogy, Physical Settings for Education, Practically Applied Research, Theoretical Research, Jewish Practise

KEYWORDS (STANDARD)

Community of Practise, Learner-centred Framework, Scholar Academic Framework, Assimilation, Jewish Identity, Apartheid, Teach-to-test, Jewish Survival, Community Education, Matric System, Intermarriage

ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS (UNIQUE)

The research examined Traditional Jewish High Schools which focus on preparing students for exams to gain university entrance (for example the South African Matric system); such schools spend between 5-8% of their available teaching time on formal and informal Jewish education (excluding Hebrew). Every educational institution is dominated by an overarching educational Framework, which is often implicit. One of these, the Scholar Academic Framework, focuses heavily on testing and grading and it is this which dominates such high schools; further, this focus forces all school activities, including Jewish Studies, into an implicit and explicit subordinate position, and into the Scholar Academic paradigm.

The Jewish educators felt that the requirement to conform to such a system ensures that their Jewish Education goals were not achieved. These goals are aimed primarily at students’ “Jewish identity”, and preventing their intermarriage and assimilation. Because the dominant Scholar Academic system elevates academic achievement, the educators felt that they could not address the non-academic needs of their students, which is where their Jewish education goals lay. In Apartheid South Africa, where communities were held apart, Jewish education was carried out primarily by the Community, which transmitted core values and attitudes. Post-apartheid all these goals have been shifted to schools which are ill-structured to achieve such attitudinal education. The educators suggested that they needed to shift to a Learner Centred model to achieve their goals. The author suggests that a Community of Practise model would be even better.

SUMMARY

The JS educators felt hat South Africa is following a socio-cultural trajectory where it is transitioning from a COP, to models resembling other diasporas; and in this process, the Jewish education system is losing the vital part played by family and community in formation of identity and value systems. In South Africa, the COP lasted longer due to apartheid, but post-1994, this has rapidly changed and the Jewish education system has not changed to match the new needs.

The educators’ primary goals (which they avowed to be achievable and practical) were to ensure their students married Jews; but the former believed that intermarriage was on the rise, and that they were not achieving that goal.

JS is inserted into the dominant Scholar Academic (SAc) educational framework; and the JS educators broadly felt that this insertion inhibited their Jewish identity and role-modelling goals. 

All the educators felt that repositioning JS was necessary; suggesting approaches which were less imposing of religious, national and ethnic canon, and rather allowed students more leeway to navigate their own paths; nevertheless, the educators were at a loss at how to balance this trend towards an empowering, Learner-Centred approach, without losing their and the school’s authority to designate legitimate values and behaviour, and to transmit those.

All the educators prioritised their educational functions in terms of role-modelling and mentoring. Undergirding this was the sobering reality that most staff in JS teams lack formal educational and Jewish Studies training, as well as a significant pay gap between Jewish education and other careers, which places an upper limit on what teams can achieve.

Many of the suggestions made for changes entailed (explicitly or implicitly) a shift toward a Community of Practise (COP) framework for Jewish education, but most formal educators were yet to see a working model of such a framework, and thus were hesitant to endorse it; experiential educators felt that their programming did create COPs and that they worked.

FINDINGS

School Executive, Lay Leadership

Educators have differing views on the school’s goals and they felt that the framework approach was a powerful tool to define clear goals for themselves and their colleagues; it should be considered as a planning and communication tool.

Educators have significant insight into conflicts between high-level strategy and daily activity in the classroom. Gaining their input is a vital step for better achievement of JS goals.

Even where educators felt it was practically possibly to influence the choices of their students in favour of marrying Jewish, they felt a shift in JS framework was necessary. A variety of shifts could be piloted and the results compared to a regular stream:

Assessment alternatives could be explored, such as project-based options or even doing away with assessment-marks completely.

A study comparing students’ JS and other averages will shed light on the actual efforts invested in the SAc JS process.

Possible changes to JS venues and timetable should be examined: combining all JS periods into one larger time once a week, conducted in a purpose-built environment might work better.

Educator remuneration plays a limiting role on the viability of Jewish education as a career goal; this requires a serious look.

The current cohort of educators could be aided significantly through comprehensive training in education and pedagogy, as well as in subject-specific knowledge.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Jewish studies curricula and pedagogy in Jewish Day schools, and in particular, within Traditional Jewish  Day Schools. 

Israel education and any other Jewish education which explicitly seeks to engage with students’ value  systems and attitudes. 

Utilising Educational Frameworks as a way to communicate schools’ Mission and Vision to all stakeholders. 

Leadership structures and roles. 

Innovative teaching strategies and pedagogies for High schools. 

Teacher training in all of the above. 

Hebrew education in Jewish Day Schools.

RESEARCH AREAS CONSIDERED FOR FURTHER PARTNERSHIP

How do Jewish studies teachers and managers, in an Orthodox, traditional South African Jewish high  school, understand the impact of their school’s educational framework on the goals of their Jewish studies  classes? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

How do JS (Jewish studies) teachers or managers (referred to as “educators” from here on) define  their personal and their school’s goals for Jewish Studies? In particular, to what extent do “Jewish  identity” or “Jewish survival/continuity” goals dominate? 

What (if any) educational framework do educators use to understand and/or implement their own  and their school’s goals and processes? 

What are the similarities and differences between educators’ understandings of the actual  framework of general and Jewish education implemented in the school? 

If the educators feel that there is a conflict between the school’s overarching educational framework  and the goals of Jewish Studies, how do they feel it could be resolved? 

What do the educators view as the ideal framework for Jewish education in the school? In particular,  do they feel a Community of Practice educational framework is a better fit for JS? 

Do the teachers have suggestions of changes to framework, content, curriculum, pedagogy, delivery,  context, immersivity, staff development, staff recruitment or any other aspect of the school which  would better meet the school’s educational goals (broad or fine) for the Jewish Studies classes? Do  these suggestions entail a change in framework? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

Traditional Jewish High Schools (TJHs) in South Africa are dominated by a Scholar Academic (SAc)  educational framework and that this is the reason that JS in High schools is taught and assessed the way  that it is; and that further, this framework is in dissonance with the Jewish educational goals of the same  schools, and those of their educators. 

SECONDARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Most Jewish educators in TJHs do not ascribe to any formal educational framework, but rather  conceptualise the goals using “Jewish identity/survival” metaphors. This may be due to the low  levels of educators’ academic training as discussed in the literature review. 

These educators do not conceptualise their school’s having a framework, nor of its impact on JS. 

On the basis of their own description of their goals, many of these Jewish educators believe that  their Jewish studies teaching activities undermine or simply do not achieve their own formulated  goals (the school’s and/or their own).

Jewish educators do have ideas for alternative teaching activities and structures for the school  which would better achieve these educational goals, but these changes may indicate a required  shift in educational framework. 

Many educators in a TJH would concede that Jewish education is more suited to a COP  (Community of Practise) model (Lave and Wenger, 1991). 

In traditional Jewish societies, Jewish identity and much of Jewish knowledge were nurtured by a  literal COP; which cannot be replaced by any other educational framework. 

The assessment, teaching and learning methods used in SAc Institutions undermine the goals  (knowledge and identity) of Jewish education because JS is not an Academic discipline and is  being forced to comply with an incongruous enveloping structure. 

SAc Institutions are not built to nurture affective value systems, beliefs or any form of identity.  This is why we see a constant decline in markers such as support for Israel, which are not overtly  religious; because the family/community is no longer providing the base identity, and teaching  these subjects in a SAc school cannot significantly impact affect. 

Jewish day schools which create categories like “kodesh” are doing so in order to create an  alternative educational framework to encompass their Jewish Education, which is perhaps why  Orthodox Jewish day schools score better on the Jewish identity basket (as per Literature  Review).  

Camps, informal education programming and gap years similarly have bigger impacts on the  Jewish identity basket (as per Literature Review) – because they are operating under different  frameworks, in particular, COPs. 

Particular elements within each educational framework would contribute positively to Jewish  education goals in a TJH, and could be successfully employed, even with a SAC educational  framework, but educators would need the training to achieve this as well as slight adaptations to  the framework, for example, venue changes.

Rabbi Ramon Widmonte

January

2022

Frameworks 2

Change the text and make it your own. Click here to begin editing.

Assessment, Camp Education, Curriculum, Educational Frameworks, Educational Psychology, Educational Theorists, Educator Training, Experiential Education, Jewish Day School, Jewish Studies / Kodesh, Leadership, Management, Meta-structures in Organisations, Pedagogy, Physical Settings for Education, Practically Applied Research, Theoretical Research, Jewish Practise

KEYWORDS (STANDARD)

Community of Practise, Learner-centred Framework, Scholar Academic Framework, Assimilation, Jewish Identity, Apartheid, Teach-to-test, Jewish Survival, Community Education, Matric System, Intermarriage

ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS (UNIQUE)

The research examined Traditional Jewish High Schools which focus on preparing students for exams to gain university entrance (for example the South African Matric system); such schools spend between 5-8% of their available teaching time on formal and informal Jewish education (excluding Hebrew). Every educational institution is dominated by an overarching educational Framework, which is often implicit. One of these, the Scholar Academic Framework, focuses heavily on testing and grading and it is this which dominates such high schools; further, this focus forces all school activities, including Jewish Studies, into an implicit and explicit subordinate position, and into the Scholar Academic paradigm.

The Jewish educators felt that the requirement to conform to such a system ensures that their Jewish Education goals were not achieved. These goals are aimed primarily at students’ “Jewish identity”, and preventing their intermarriage and assimilation. Because the dominant Scholar Academic system elevates academic achievement, the educators felt that they could not address the non-academic needs of their students, which is where their Jewish education goals lay. In Apartheid South Africa, where communities were held apart, Jewish education was carried out primarily by the Community, which transmitted core values and attitudes. Post-apartheid all these goals have been shifted to schools which are ill-structured to achieve such attitudinal education. The educators suggested that they needed to shift to a Learner Centred model to achieve their goals. The author suggests that a Community of Practise model would be even better.

SUMMARY

The JS educators felt hat South Africa is following a socio-cultural trajectory where it is transitioning from a COP, to models resembling other diasporas; and in this process, the Jewish education system is losing the vital part played by family and community in formation of identity and value systems. In South Africa, the COP lasted longer due to apartheid, but post-1994, this has rapidly changed and the Jewish education system has not changed to match the new needs.

The educators’ primary goals (which they avowed to be achievable and practical) were to ensure their students married Jews; but the former believed that intermarriage was on the rise, and that they were not achieving that goal.

JS is inserted into the dominant Scholar Academic (SAc) educational framework; and the JS educators broadly felt that this insertion inhibited their Jewish identity and role-modelling goals. 

All the educators felt that repositioning JS was necessary; suggesting approaches which were less imposing of religious, national and ethnic canon, and rather allowed students more leeway to navigate their own paths; nevertheless, the educators were at a loss at how to balance this trend towards an empowering, Learner-Centred approach, without losing their and the school’s authority to designate legitimate values and behaviour, and to transmit those.

All the educators prioritised their educational functions in terms of role-modelling and mentoring. Undergirding this was the sobering reality that most staff in JS teams lack formal educational and Jewish Studies training, as well as a significant pay gap between Jewish education and other careers, which places an upper limit on what teams can achieve.

Many of the suggestions made for changes entailed (explicitly or implicitly) a shift toward a Community of Practise (COP) framework for Jewish education, but most formal educators were yet to see a working model of such a framework, and thus were hesitant to endorse it; experiential educators felt that their programming did create COPs and that they worked.

FINDINGS

School Executive, Lay Leadership

Educators have differing views on the school’s goals and they felt that the framework approach was a powerful tool to define clear goals for themselves and their colleagues; it should be considered as a planning and communication tool.

Educators have significant insight into conflicts between high-level strategy and daily activity in the classroom. Gaining their input is a vital step for better achievement of JS goals.

Even where educators felt it was practically possibly to influence the choices of their students in favour of marrying Jewish, they felt a shift in JS framework was necessary. A variety of shifts could be piloted and the results compared to a regular stream:

Assessment alternatives could be explored, such as project-based options or even doing away with assessment-marks completely.

A study comparing students’ JS and other averages will shed light on the actual efforts invested in the SAc JS process.

Possible changes to JS venues and timetable should be examined: combining all JS periods into one larger time once a week, conducted in a purpose-built environment might work better.

Educator remuneration plays a limiting role on the viability of Jewish education as a career goal; this requires a serious look.

The current cohort of educators could be aided significantly through comprehensive training in education and pedagogy, as well as in subject-specific knowledge.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Jewish studies curricula and pedagogy in Jewish Day schools, and in particular, within Traditional Jewish  Day Schools. 

Israel education and any other Jewish education which explicitly seeks to engage with students’ value  systems and attitudes. 

Utilising Educational Frameworks as a way to communicate schools’ Mission and Vision to all stakeholders. 

Leadership structures and roles. 

Innovative teaching strategies and pedagogies for High schools. 

Teacher training in all of the above. 

Hebrew education in Jewish Day Schools.

RESEARCH AREAS CONSIDERED FOR FURTHER PARTNERSHIP

How do Jewish studies teachers and managers, in an Orthodox, traditional South African Jewish high  school, understand the impact of their school’s educational framework on the goals of their Jewish studies  classes? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

How do JS (Jewish studies) teachers or managers (referred to as “educators” from here on) define  their personal and their school’s goals for Jewish Studies? In particular, to what extent do “Jewish  identity” or “Jewish survival/continuity” goals dominate? 

What (if any) educational framework do educators use to understand and/or implement their own  and their school’s goals and processes? 

What are the similarities and differences between educators’ understandings of the actual  framework of general and Jewish education implemented in the school? 

If the educators feel that there is a conflict between the school’s overarching educational framework  and the goals of Jewish Studies, how do they feel it could be resolved? 

What do the educators view as the ideal framework for Jewish education in the school? In particular,  do they feel a Community of Practice educational framework is a better fit for JS? 

Do the teachers have suggestions of changes to framework, content, curriculum, pedagogy, delivery,  context, immersivity, staff development, staff recruitment or any other aspect of the school which  would better meet the school’s educational goals (broad or fine) for the Jewish Studies classes? Do  these suggestions entail a change in framework? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

Traditional Jewish High Schools (TJHs) in South Africa are dominated by a Scholar Academic (SAc)  educational framework and that this is the reason that JS in High schools is taught and assessed the way  that it is; and that further, this framework is in dissonance with the Jewish educational goals of the same  schools, and those of their educators. 

SECONDARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Most Jewish educators in TJHs do not ascribe to any formal educational framework, but rather  conceptualise the goals using “Jewish identity/survival” metaphors. This may be due to the low  levels of educators’ academic training as discussed in the literature review. 

These educators do not conceptualise their school’s having a framework, nor of its impact on JS. 

On the basis of their own description of their goals, many of these Jewish educators believe that  their Jewish studies teaching activities undermine or simply do not achieve their own formulated  goals (the school’s and/or their own).

Jewish educators do have ideas for alternative teaching activities and structures for the school  which would better achieve these educational goals, but these changes may indicate a required  shift in educational framework. 

Many educators in a TJH would concede that Jewish education is more suited to a COP  (Community of Practise) model (Lave and Wenger, 1991). 

In traditional Jewish societies, Jewish identity and much of Jewish knowledge were nurtured by a  literal COP; which cannot be replaced by any other educational framework. 

The assessment, teaching and learning methods used in SAc Institutions undermine the goals  (knowledge and identity) of Jewish education because JS is not an Academic discipline and is  being forced to comply with an incongruous enveloping structure. 

SAc Institutions are not built to nurture affective value systems, beliefs or any form of identity.  This is why we see a constant decline in markers such as support for Israel, which are not overtly  religious; because the family/community is no longer providing the base identity, and teaching  these subjects in a SAc school cannot significantly impact affect. 

Jewish day schools which create categories like “kodesh” are doing so in order to create an  alternative educational framework to encompass their Jewish Education, which is perhaps why  Orthodox Jewish day schools score better on the Jewish identity basket (as per Literature  Review).  

Camps, informal education programming and gap years similarly have bigger impacts on the  Jewish identity basket (as per Literature Review) – because they are operating under different  frameworks, in particular, COPs. 

Particular elements within each educational framework would contribute positively to Jewish  education goals in a TJH, and could be successfully employed, even with a SAC educational  framework, but educators would need the training to achieve this as well as slight adaptations to  the framework, for example, venue changes.

Rabbi Ramon Widmonte

January

2022

Frameworks for Jewish education – resonances and dissonances between Jewish day schools’ structures and their Jewish studies goals.

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Assessment, Camp Education, Curriculum, Educational Frameworks, Educational Psychology, Educational Theorists, Educator Training, Experiential Education, Jewish Day School, Jewish Studies / Kodesh, Leadership, Management, Meta-structures in Organisations, Pedagogy, Physical Settings for Education, Practically Applied Research, Theoretical Research, Jewish Practise

KEYWORDS (STANDARD)

Community of Practise, Learner-centred Framework, Scholar Academic Framework, Assimilation, Jewish Identity, Apartheid, Teach-to-test, Jewish Survival, Community Education, Matric System, Intermarriage

ADDITIONAL KEYWORDS (UNIQUE)

The research examined Traditional Jewish High Schools which focus on preparing students for exams to gain university entrance (for example the South African Matric system); such schools spend between 5-8% of their available teaching time on formal and informal Jewish education (excluding Hebrew). Every educational institution is dominated by an overarching educational Framework, which is often implicit. One of these, the Scholar Academic Framework, focuses heavily on testing and grading and it is this which dominates such high schools; further, this focus forces all school activities, including Jewish Studies, into an implicit and explicit subordinate position, and into the Scholar Academic paradigm.

The Jewish educators felt that the requirement to conform to such a system ensures that their Jewish Education goals were not achieved. These goals are aimed primarily at students’ “Jewish identity”, and preventing their intermarriage and assimilation. Because the dominant Scholar Academic system elevates academic achievement, the educators felt that they could not address the non-academic needs of their students, which is where their Jewish education goals lay. In Apartheid South Africa, where communities were held apart, Jewish education was carried out primarily by the Community, which transmitted core values and attitudes. Post-apartheid all these goals have been shifted to schools which are ill-structured to achieve such attitudinal education. The educators suggested that they needed to shift to a Learner Centred model to achieve their goals. The author suggests that a Community of Practise model would be even better.

SUMMARY

The JS educators felt hat South Africa is following a socio-cultural trajectory where it is transitioning from a COP, to models resembling other diasporas; and in this process, the Jewish education system is losing the vital part played by family and community in formation of identity and value systems. In South Africa, the COP lasted longer due to apartheid, but post-1994, this has rapidly changed and the Jewish education system has not changed to match the new needs.

The educators’ primary goals (which they avowed to be achievable and practical) were to ensure their students married Jews; but the former believed that intermarriage was on the rise, and that they were not achieving that goal.

JS is inserted into the dominant Scholar Academic (SAc) educational framework; and the JS educators broadly felt that this insertion inhibited their Jewish identity and role-modelling goals. 

All the educators felt that repositioning JS was necessary; suggesting approaches which were less imposing of religious, national and ethnic canon, and rather allowed students more leeway to navigate their own paths; nevertheless, the educators were at a loss at how to balance this trend towards an empowering, Learner-Centred approach, without losing their and the school’s authority to designate legitimate values and behaviour, and to transmit those.

All the educators prioritised their educational functions in terms of role-modelling and mentoring. Undergirding this was the sobering reality that most staff in JS teams lack formal educational and Jewish Studies training, as well as a significant pay gap between Jewish education and other careers, which places an upper limit on what teams can achieve.

Many of the suggestions made for changes entailed (explicitly or implicitly) a shift toward a Community of Practise (COP) framework for Jewish education, but most formal educators were yet to see a working model of such a framework, and thus were hesitant to endorse it; experiential educators felt that their programming did create COPs and that they worked.

FINDINGS

School Executive, Lay Leadership

Educators have differing views on the school’s goals and they felt that the framework approach was a powerful tool to define clear goals for themselves and their colleagues; it should be considered as a planning and communication tool.

Educators have significant insight into conflicts between high-level strategy and daily activity in the classroom. Gaining their input is a vital step for better achievement of JS goals.

Even where educators felt it was practically possibly to influence the choices of their students in favour of marrying Jewish, they felt a shift in JS framework was necessary. A variety of shifts could be piloted and the results compared to a regular stream:

Assessment alternatives could be explored, such as project-based options or even doing away with assessment-marks completely.

A study comparing students’ JS and other averages will shed light on the actual efforts invested in the SAc JS process.

Possible changes to JS venues and timetable should be examined: combining all JS periods into one larger time once a week, conducted in a purpose-built environment might work better.

Educator remuneration plays a limiting role on the viability of Jewish education as a career goal; this requires a serious look.

The current cohort of educators could be aided significantly through comprehensive training in education and pedagogy, as well as in subject-specific knowledge.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Jewish studies curricula and pedagogy in Jewish Day schools, and in particular, within Traditional Jewish  Day Schools. 

Israel education and any other Jewish education which explicitly seeks to engage with students’ value  systems and attitudes. 

Utilising Educational Frameworks as a way to communicate schools’ Mission and Vision to all stakeholders. 

Leadership structures and roles. 

Innovative teaching strategies and pedagogies for High schools. 

Teacher training in all of the above. 

Hebrew education in Jewish Day Schools.

RESEARCH AREAS CONSIDERED FOR FURTHER PARTNERSHIP

How do Jewish studies teachers and managers, in an Orthodox, traditional South African Jewish high  school, understand the impact of their school’s educational framework on the goals of their Jewish studies  classes? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

How do JS (Jewish studies) teachers or managers (referred to as “educators” from here on) define  their personal and their school’s goals for Jewish Studies? In particular, to what extent do “Jewish  identity” or “Jewish survival/continuity” goals dominate? 

What (if any) educational framework do educators use to understand and/or implement their own  and their school’s goals and processes? 

What are the similarities and differences between educators’ understandings of the actual  framework of general and Jewish education implemented in the school? 

If the educators feel that there is a conflict between the school’s overarching educational framework  and the goals of Jewish Studies, how do they feel it could be resolved? 

What do the educators view as the ideal framework for Jewish education in the school? In particular,  do they feel a Community of Practice educational framework is a better fit for JS? 

Do the teachers have suggestions of changes to framework, content, curriculum, pedagogy, delivery,  context, immersivity, staff development, staff recruitment or any other aspect of the school which  would better meet the school’s educational goals (broad or fine) for the Jewish Studies classes? Do  these suggestions entail a change in framework? 

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION

Traditional Jewish High Schools (TJHs) in South Africa are dominated by a Scholar Academic (SAc)  educational framework and that this is the reason that JS in High schools is taught and assessed the way  that it is; and that further, this framework is in dissonance with the Jewish educational goals of the same  schools, and those of their educators. 

SECONDARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Most Jewish educators in TJHs do not ascribe to any formal educational framework, but rather  conceptualise the goals using “Jewish identity/survival” metaphors. This may be due to the low  levels of educators’ academic training as discussed in the literature review. 

These educators do not conceptualise their school’s having a framework, nor of its impact on JS. 

On the basis of their own description of their goals, many of these Jewish educators believe that  their Jewish studies teaching activities undermine or simply do not achieve their own formulated  goals (the school’s and/or their own).

Jewish educators do have ideas for alternative teaching activities and structures for the school  which would better achieve these educational goals, but these changes may indicate a required  shift in educational framework. 

Many educators in a TJH would concede that Jewish education is more suited to a COP  (Community of Practise) model (Lave and Wenger, 1991). 

In traditional Jewish societies, Jewish identity and much of Jewish knowledge were nurtured by a  literal COP; which cannot be replaced by any other educational framework. 

The assessment, teaching and learning methods used in SAc Institutions undermine the goals  (knowledge and identity) of Jewish education because JS is not an Academic discipline and is  being forced to comply with an incongruous enveloping structure. 

SAc Institutions are not built to nurture affective value systems, beliefs or any form of identity.  This is why we see a constant decline in markers such as support for Israel, which are not overtly  religious; because the family/community is no longer providing the base identity, and teaching  these subjects in a SAc school cannot significantly impact affect. 

Jewish day schools which create categories like “kodesh” are doing so in order to create an  alternative educational framework to encompass their Jewish Education, which is perhaps why  Orthodox Jewish day schools score better on the Jewish identity basket (as per Literature  Review).  

Camps, informal education programming and gap years similarly have bigger impacts on the  Jewish identity basket (as per Literature Review) – because they are operating under different  frameworks, in particular, COPs. 

Particular elements within each educational framework would contribute positively to Jewish  education goals in a TJH, and could be successfully employed, even with a SAC educational  framework, but educators would need the training to achieve this as well as slight adaptations to  the framework, for example, venue changes.