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MIFGASHIM  April 2010

MIFGASHIM April 2010

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 123

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 28 Apr 2010 13:40:53 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (115 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 123


Contents:


1.  	Marvin Schick on the Bad News in Day School Education

2.  	Herman Wouk on Talmud Study

3.	Marshall Memo: Twelve Ways to Make Information Stick in Students’ Brains



~~~~~~~~~


1.  	Marvin Schick on the Bad News in Day School Education


Day school enrollment continues to grow but only in the yeshiva and Chassidic sectors, according to Marvin Schick’s demographic study of day schools.

In the Conservative and Modern Orthodox movements enrollment is stagnating or declining, and Schick argues that many are ignoring the bad news at their own peril.

“A person greatly committed to the Conservative movement’s Solomon Schechter schools circulated an email several months ago urging recipients to focus on good news. That’s a useful idea, provided that the other news isn’t treated as if it doesn’t exist, particularly when the other news is, unfortunately, the more important story. The Solomon Schechter’s are hemorrhaging students and losing some schools along the way and the process is ongoing.”

What does Schick recommend?

“If Conservatives want to salvage their Solomon Schechters, they need to strengthen their Judaics and find ways of reducing tuition. They should advocate for government support of the secular or academic program of day schools under religious sponsorship, as key figures in the movement did in the 1950s through much of the 1970s. In a characteristically insightful but uncharacteristically angry piece in the latest Commentary, Jack Wertheimer who remains a significant presence at the Jewish Theological Seminary writes about “The High Cost of Jewish Living” and makes a pitch for government aid. The article’s subtitle speaks of “’the perverse refusal of the American Jewish community to look after its own.’” 

For the full essay, see http://mschick.blogspot.com/2010/03/should-we-ignore-bad-news.html
 

~~~~~~~~~


2.  	Herman Wouk on Talmud Study

Herman Wouk appeared Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA, impressively interviewed for an hour by Tim Rutten. 
 
Wouk’s new book, which he is publishing at the age of 94, is “The Language God Speaks,” a title he took from a statement made to him by the extraordinary Jewish scientist Richard Feynman (among whose many other activities was bongo drumming): that he should learn calculus, since it was “the language God spoke.” 
 
The book is a response to Feynman’s view of religion, which is summarized in a Feynman statement that serves as the quotation on the book’s opening page: 
 
It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all those atoms with all their motion and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil – which is the view that religion has.  The stage is too big for the drama.
  
The video below is Wouk’s response to a question Rutten asked about whether the Jewish heritage of rigorous Talmud study might have affected secular scientists such as Feynman. The five minutes of Wouk’s answer is worth many times the time it will take you to watch it. 

http://jpundit.typepad.com/jci/2010/04/herman-wouk-94-at-ucla.html


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Marshall Memo: Twelve Ways to Make Information Stick in Students’ Brains

“When information is presented to students, it goes into the working memory of their brain,” says teacher/writer Bill Page in this Teachers.Net/Gazette article (featured in Education Digest). The information is likely to evaporate unless something moves it into long-term memory. How can teachers make that happen? Page shares 12 strategies:

• Make it personal. Pairing students, having them work in small groups, and orchestrating interactive activities all help to link new information to each student’s prior knowledge and experiences. 

• Make it interesting. “Teachers must find another way to teach those who did not learn the lesson the first time,” says Page. The best way to do that is to hook students’ interest.
	
• Help students construct meaning. “If new information does not connect or relate to existing knowledge, the brain will not accept it,” says Page. Teachers need to listen carefully as students process new information and involve them in constructing their own meaning. “Students learn more by answering their own questions of ‘why’,” he says, “than by someone giving them reasons for ‘why’.”

• Make it meaningful. “The why is more important than the what in learning,” says Page. New information has to make sense to students.

• Have students apply new knowledge. Students “use it or lose it,” says Page. “Pairing and small-group discussions are crucial to learning.” 
	
• Engage emotions. “We learn in direct proportion to the strength of our feelings,” says Page, “– especially our likes and dislikes… Emotions are why we remember the person who sat behind us in the 7th grade, but can’t remember the name of someone we met yesterday.”

• Maximize the use of the senses. The brain’s neurons take in information from hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching, says Page: “The more neurons that are affected by stimuli from different sources, the stronger and longer lasting the memory and recall ability will be.” 

• Make it social. “What we value in learning depends on what those around us are learning,” says Page. “We learn from the company we keep.”

• Apply the laws of learning. Teachers need to be savvy to predictable patterns of attention, memory, retrieval, and forgetting, says Page. One way is to make connections to children’s interests, including sports and holidays.

• Use associations. “The brain works by linking things to other things,” says Page. “Memory relies on patterns, concepts, meaningfulness, relevance, and associations.” That’s why using similes, metaphors, and well-chosen examples is so helpful.

• Teach concepts. Once students grasp a general concept, the facts related to it fall into place and are much easier to remember. 

• Climb Bloom’s ladder. About 95 percent of teaching and testing is at the lowest Bloom levels – knowledge and comprehension. Disconnected bits of knowledge are the easiest to “teach” (Memorize the 50 state capitals) but the hardest for students to commit to long-term memory. When teachers “put facts in meaningful groups or concepts,” says Page, “they’re more easily learned.” And that means getting students applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating.

“12 Things Teachers Must Know About Learning” by Bill Page in Teachers.Net/Gazette, February 2010, http://teachers.net/gazette/wordpress/bill-page/12-things-teachers-must-know/ 
(spotted in Education Digest, April 2010, Vol. 75, #8, p. 54-56) 

The Marshall Memo is a weekly digest of important research in K-12 education. Individual
subscriptions are $50 for the school year at http://www.marshallmemo.com.



 

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