HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

From the Editor

by Dr. Barbara Davis Issue: The Whole Student
Students are our reason for being. Judaism includes the instruction to teach one’s children in a prayer recited twice daily. Our forefathers declared that a city without a school should be destroyed. For the Jewish people, the transmission of our heritage across the generations is sacred. As educators and leaders of Jewish community day schools, we see the entire Jewish tradition reverberate in the interaction between teacher and student.

But how much do we really know about how students learn? How well do we understand why some students succeed and others fail? Have we progressed beyond the belief that “there are four types among those who sit in the presence of the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve. ‘The sponge,’ who soaks up everything. ‘The funnel,’ who takes in at this end and lets out at the other. ‘The strainer,’ who lets out the wine and retains the dregs. ‘The sieve,’ who removes the coarse meal and collects the fine flour”?

With all the advances in technology, with the global interconnections possible through enhanced communications, with the visualization of brain function that the 21st century has brought, are we really much further ahead of the concept of the student as a tabula rasa upon which to inscribe all that we perceive to be worthy of knowing?

While it seems clear that education is a priority not only for individual families, but for nations, there are many obstacles that stand in the way of making best practices common practices. As the larger educational community struggles with issues of financing, evaluation, MOOCS, gamification and common core standards, the Jewish education community must add on issues of values, relevance and tradition. Ours is not an easy burden.

But the writers whose work appears within the page of this issue of HaYidion will do much to illuminate aspects of student learning that are of particular relevance to today’s educational climate. They write about new and fascinating ways to bridge the span of centuries and generations to make Jewish learning exciting and relevant for those to whom we dedicate our life’s work: our students.♦

Dr. Barbara Davis is the secretary of RAVSAK, executive editor of HaYidion and head of school at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School in Dewitt, NY. Barbara can be reached at bdavis74@twcyn.rr.com.

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The Whole Student

One way that day schools stand out is the attention they can provide to each and every student, as expressed in the classic line from Proverbs, “Educate the youth according to his or her path.” Authors here offer numerous ways for schools to address the multi-faceted student to ensure that s/he is nurtured academically, spiritually, creatively and socially. 

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