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MIFGASHIM  January 2009

MIFGASHIM January 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 40

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 17:10:54 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (120 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 40


Contents:

1.	Announcements:  Lookstein Podcast on Love and Student Growth

2.	What constitutes academic excellence?

3.	Marshall Memo:  Elementary Antecedents of High School Achievement


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Announcements:  Lookstein Podcast on Love and Student Growth

This week in Classroom Teaching, Mark Smilowitz discusses the role of love in helping 
your students learn and grow.  To listen or subscribe, go to 
http://www.lookstein.org/podcasts


~~~~~~~~~


2. 	What constitutes academic excellence?

Mifgashim will be devoting the next several issues the notion of academic excellence in 
Jewish Studies day schools.   Specifically, we will explore the claim that our Jewish day 
schools provide a better (or at least as good a) General Studies education as local private 
or fine public schools.  

The question is:  How do we know?  How do we measure the academic quality of our 
schools?

With nearly 100% of our students going to the college of their choice, with truancy almost 
zero, with a home environment that supports the mission of the school, the benchmarks 
of excellence that are typically used in public schools are not relevant in our context.  
Every day school would score in the "excellent" range.

But within that narrow band, how do we distinguish between a good General Studies 
education and a great General Studies education?

Send your thoughts to [log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Marshall Memo:  Elementary Antecedents of High School Achievement
	
In this Education Week article, “core knowledge” advocate E.D. Hirsch says that in the 
years since the 1983 A Nation at Risk report, policy-makers and philanthropists haven’t 
paid enough attention to the all-important elementary years. “The general knowledge and 
vocabulary required for effective learning at the high-school level are the fruits of a long 
process,” he writes. 

“The way to reform high school is to prepare students effectively in the elementary years 
to thrive there… With a slow, tenacious, and effective buildup of knowledge and 
vocabulary in elementary school, high school will almost take care of itself.” 

Hirsch worries that U.S. elementary schools are spending too much time on general 
skills, versus academic content. He points out that Asian and European students are more 
proficient critical-thinkers and problem-solvers than American students, despite the fact 
that their schools spend most of their time on academic content. 

“Higher-order skills are important,” he argues, “but they are not gained best by endlessly 
focusing on them… Few of us learned critical thinking by taking lessons in critical 
thinking.” Higher-level skills are attained by studying a rich curriculum in math, 
literature, science, history, geography, music, and art and learning higher-level skills in 
context. “There is a scientific consensus that academic skill is highly dependent on 
specific relevant knowledge,” writes Hirsch.
	
How do some people who are only modestly above average in math become highly 
proficient? asks Hirsch. “Mental calculators are made, not born,” he says. “They begin 
with a tiny basic advantage in math ability. This leads them to take pleasure in math. 

The process of doing problems and practicing calculations is a rewarding activity for 
them, and they practice math more and more. Those of us who lack that tiny initial edge 
take less pleasure in the activity and practice it much less. What makes a math genius is 
thus in large part what makes a great musical performer – a small advantage in talent 
leads, over time, with long effort, to a big advantage in achievement.”

“In general,” Hirsch concludes, “it is not some Kryptonitic superiority of Superman-like 
endowment that accounts for high expertise in any subject, but rather tenacity of practice 
(lasting on average some 10 years). What is true for math and music is also true for 
language abilities. 

Wide knowledge and a large vocabulary – the prerequisites to high achievement in high 
school – are gradual accretions. You cannot gain them by a sudden intensive incursion 
into high school.”

“An Epoch-Making Report, but What About the Early Grades?” by E.D. Hirsch Jr. in 
Education Week, Apr. 23, 2008 (Vol. 27, # 34, p. 40, 30-31)
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/04/23/34hirsch_ep.h27.html 

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

The Mifgashim List is a project of
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora,
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

The Center encourages you to become a paid member and
benefit for the wide variety of programming offered by the Center.
For information see http://www.lookstein.org/joinus/.

To reply, comment or post a message, please write us at: [log in to unmask]
To leave the list, respond to this message with the word "remove" in the
subject line.

You can search the archives at http://listserv.biu.ac.il/archives/mifgashim.html.

Check out online educational materials and information on other
Lookstein Center programs on our website at http://www.lookstein.org/.

The e-community is supported by generous grants from Evelyn and Shmuel Katz, Bal Harbour, Fl.

Further information may be obtained by writing to: [log in to unmask]

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