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MIFGASHIM  June 2009

MIFGASHIM June 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 79

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 24 Jun 2009 13:49:27 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (205 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 79


Contents:

1.	Lookstein Podcast:  Two Models of Teaching
2.	Day School Graduation Speeches
3.	Responses:  Literature and Character Education (Bieler)
4.	Marshall Memo:  Personal Ethics and Privileged Students


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Lookstein Podcast:  Two Models of Teaching

This week's Classroom Teaching considers two models of teaching, one that focuses on 
the teacher's presentation, and the other that focuses on student work and achievement. 
One of these seems more prevalent today, but the other has compelling features that 
should be considered. To hear the episode or subscribe to the podcast feed, go to 
http://www.lookstein.org/podcasts/


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Day School Graduation Speeches


USA Today had a brief column on ten stellar college graduation speeches.  (See 
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-05-12-best-speeches_N.htm)

Inspired by USA Today’s idea, we have begun to assemble excerpts from speeches from 
this year’s day school graduations.   Below is a sampling of some of the wise words our 
leaders shared with their graduates.  More follows next week.


~~~~


Judy Groner, B’nai Shalom Day School, Greensboro, NC:


Two years ago, I attended the college graduation of two members of the BSDS Class of 
’99.  The keynote speaker was a nice Jewish boy named Thomas Friedman, a reporter for 
the New York Times. I’d like to paraphrase four of his suggestions and pass them on to 
you.

Lesson #1.  Make sure to do what you love and love what you do. You love being Jewish 
– so act on it! Look for opportunities to do mitzvot and chesed. 

Lesson #2. You have a well-deserved reputation of being a talkative group.  Don’t miss 
the whole story by talking too much. Be a good listener. 

Lesson #3.  Continue to learn how to learn.  In high school and in particularly in college, 
ask around and find out who the best teachers are. Take those classes and enjoy 
learning.  It will not matter if you don’t remember everything that they teach.

The generation that entered the desert is no longer alive at the time we reach the end of 
Sefer B’midbar.  Instead, a new generation is prepared to enter the land promised to 
their ancestors. 

You too are no longer “wandering in the wilderness” of middle school.  You are poised, 
young Jewish adults, eagerly preparing to make your mark in the world of high school 
and beyond. 


~~~~


Rabbi Perry Tirschwell, Weinbaum Yeshiva High School, Boca Raton, FL:

Psychologists have named the stage of life … the “odyssey years.”  The biblical 
prototypical teenager who left home at your age…(was) our patriarch Jacob. “Vayeitzei 
Yaakov MiBeer Sheva…”

….lessons I learned from our alumni about success in college that…lie at the heart of your 
success in Haran, in your second post high school stage--your higher education, before 
you set up homes of your own.  &#8232; 

Seek out relationships with and guidance from religious and academic mentors. In 
general, they won’t come to you; that’s the nature of college as opposed to high school. 
Whether it is career direction, dating challenges, financial difficulties or religious doubts, 
there are people who want to help you. 

Lastly, look out for each other. Help each other out when you start dating seriously- this 
year I participated in the wedding of … (’04), who was introduced to his future wife by his 
WYHS classmates….When you become an upper classman, teach the ropes to WYHS grads 
who come after you.
 
Vayavo Yaakov Shalem. We look forward to your completing this journey, your Odyssey 
years, enabling you to lead the adult lives you about which you dream. 


 
~~~~~~~~~


3.	Responses:  Literature and Character Education (Bieler)

While I agree that a literature-based approach to character building has great potential, I 
was struck by the examples that were given by Middle School principal Joseph Brown. 
They all had to do with encouraging academically under-achieving students to strive for 
excellence. While developing a proper  work ethic is certainly an aspect of character 
education, it would seem that the  general area is much more nuanced and wide-ranging 
than the examples provided in  the article.

Jack Bieler
Silver Spring, MD
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


4.	Marshall Memo:  Personal Ethics and Privileged Students

In this powerful article in Educational Leadership, Colby College professor Adam Howard 
describes an incident at an affluent private school where he used to teach. 

The basketball team was losing badly in a state championship game against a team from 
a poor community. With 90 seconds left to play, some of his school’s students began 
shaking the keys to their expensive homes and cars. “You beat us now,” shouted one of 
the boys, “but you’ll work for us later.” Another boy jeered, “And clean my house!” The 
school’s administration did nothing. 

Howard was profoundly disturbed, especially since the school’s mission statement called 
for developing “high moral character, integrity, and respect for others.” 

He decided to conduct an ethnographic study in four schools to understand students’ 
behavior and attitudes. Excellence was a central value in the schools. “Students and 
educators were really good at being good,” says Howard. Soto voce, the schools 
encouraged a “win-at-all-costs attitude, unhealthy levels of stress, deception, 
competition, selfishness, and greed.” Some unwritten lessons:

• Do whatever it takes to win. This manifested itself in putting down others, dominating 
class discussions, getting on the good side of adults, and cheating. Teachers unwittingly 
reinforced these behaviors.

• People outside our social class are different. Although students sometimes did service 
learning in a soup kitchen, they never really emerged from their bubble or developed 
mutual, respectful relationships with different people. 

• Getting ahead is a game. This included currying favor with teachers and participating in 
the right mix of academic, athletic, and community activities. “Playing the game stifled 
the independent, critical thinking the schools claimed to encourage,” says Howard. “At 
times, students were unable to move forward with their schoolwork for fear that they 
were not getting the answers they thought teachers wanted. Anxiety paralyzed them.”

But Howard also found individual teachers who modeled and explicitly taught students 
better values. Specifically:

• A healthy acceptance of failure – This helped students feel safe to learn from mistakes.

• Honesty about shortcomings – These teachers talked about faults and what they learned 
from bad decisions.

• Openness to diverse perspectives – “Curriculums are not simply a collection of facts,” 
says Howard. “Curriculums tell a story, from which students learn lessons about how to 
interact with others.” Some teachers used works of literature, iconoclastic history books, 
films, and guest speakers to stretch students’ horizons. 

• Flow – Some students got deeply engaged in publishing a magazine, designing a virtual-
reality game, or painting, not to polish their resume but for the sheer enjoyment of it.

• Collaboration – Working intensely with others (e.g., rehearsing a play) helped “build 
their capacity to imagine someone else’s point of view and establish and maintain 
supportive relationships,” says Howard.

• Building critical awareness – Well-chosen readings, journal-writing, simulation games, 
and reflection helped students become more thoughtful.

These levers can make a difference, says Howard, but students have an established 
sense of themselves, and teachers need to tap into that. “The better we understand our 
students’ perspectives,” he concludes, “the firmer footing we will have for transforming or 
unlearning the lessons of privilege.”

“Unlearning the Lessons of Privilege” by Adam Howard in Educational Leadership, May 
2009 (Vol. 66, #8, online only); this article is available at http://www.ascd.org/el; the 
author can be reached at [log in to unmask] 

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

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

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benefit for the wide variety of programming offered by the Center.
For information see http://www.lookstein.org/joinus/.

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

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

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