Everyone's talking about "Waiting for Superman", and with good reason. I hope they will also talk about this article in the NY Times Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems. Here's what I think is important about both, in no particular order:
Big Ideas in Teaching and Learning
Good education costs a lot of money
Money alone isn't an answer
Complex issues require complex approaches
There is no single answer to any complicated problem
There are many partial answers, and it isn't always possible to isolate the most important
People who want to help have many different skill sets - all of which can and should be utilized to make things better.
These Big Ideas are crucial in general education, and no less so in the Jewish educational world. Too often we jump on a single bandwagon expecting that what works in one context will work in all. This simply isn't true. We should never discourage people with a passion for good outcomes, because we can never be sure what will trigger improvement in any single situation.
A month's, no a year's, no again - a lifetime curriculum could certainly be built around this week's parasha, and if you are studying Torah according to the weekly schedule you surely have to pick and choose - especially since you probably have only a short time with the text.
I am a Jewish educator who is passionate about helping students see Jewish wisdom as integral in helping us make meaning of life in the world in which we live. Jewish thinking is too valuable to be cooped up in a school setting. It needs to be part of everything we see and do. It needs to be the lens through which we view the world.
IT NEEDS TO BE IMPORTANT!!