Monday, March 1, 2010

Why I chose Jewish Education as a career

Recently I was waiting for a plane and happened to be sitting with someone who, it turns out, holds a pretty high position in a government educational agency.  In the course of conversation I half-jokingly suggested that she use her influence to limit the number of high-stakes tests students are obligated to take.  Her answer, more or less was this:  'You know, don't you, that educators aren't running the system these days - business people are.'

Here are two articles you may enjoy reading:

  1. Business principles won't work for school reform, former supporter Ravitch says - This article has received a great deal of attention, for good reasons
  2. Where the Bar Ought to Be is an op-ed by Bob Herbert in which he describes Deborah Kenny, creator of charter schools in Harlem.  I am not necessarily a fan of charter schools, but I agree wholeheartedly with this statement she made:
I had five core things in mind for my kids, and that’s what I want for our students,” she said. “I wanted them to be wholesome in character. I wanted them to be compassionate and to see life as a responsibility to give something to the world. I wanted them to have a sophisticated intellect. I wanted them to be avid readers, the kind of person who always has trouble putting a book down. And I raised them to be independent thinkers, to lead reflective and meaningful lives.”
In most settings of Jewish learning we are not bound by the strictures of the general educational world.  We can set our own priorities.

  • What are the five core things you have in mind as what you want for your students?
  • Does the constituency (clergy, teachers, parents, kids) in your school share your core ideas?
  • What are you doing to support these ideas?
    • How does the curriculum in your school align to these ideas?
    • How does the structure of your school further them?
    • How does the staff nurture their development?
    • How are those other than students involved in supporting these ideas?
    • How can everyone involved do a better job?

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