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MIFGASHIM  January 2011

MIFGASHIM January 2011

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 154

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Wed, 5 Jan 2011 12:00:20 +0200

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Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 154
 

Note:  If your electronic edition of Mifgashim appears with interspersed gibberish characters, please notify [log in to unmask]
 

Contents: 
 
1.         JEL on Educational Technology

2.         Other Responses to the Letter Banning Sale of Homes to Gentiles in Israel

3.         New Feature!  The Jewish Periodical “Marshall Memo”

4.         Marshall Memo: Report Cards Emphasizing Student Mastery, Not Compliant Behavior
 
~~~~~~~~~
 

1.         JEL on Educational Technology

The Fall 2010 issue of Jewish Educational Leadership focuses on Educational Technology 2.0.
What resources are available? What is the promise, and the danger, of integrating technology into Jewish education? Where are we headed?  To receive a copy, go to http://www.lookstein.org/journal.htm. 


~~~~~~~~~


2.         Other Responses to the Letter Banning Sale of Homes to Gentiles in Israel
 

In support of the ban:

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim http://www.ravaviner.com/2010/12/dont-sell-our-land-to-foreign-people.html

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu (z”l) http://www.harav.org/tzof/567he.doc
 
 
Against the ban:
 
Rabbi David Golinkin, Masorti Movement http://masortiaustralia.blogspot.com/2010/12/timely-responsum-from-rabbi-david.html
 
 
~~~~~~~~~
 
 
3.         New Feature!  The Jewish Periodical “Marshall Memo”
 
Beginning this week, we will provide a summary of a leading article in a Jewish periodical relevant to Jewish educators.  This week’s topic is “Education’s Forgotten Vision.”


In his article, “Education’s Forsaken Vision”, Molcho Avner criticizes the Israeli education system’s almost exclusive focus on engendering egalitarianism. He claims that while the central goal of education in the first few decades of the state was the cultivation of students’ moral fiber, today’s goal is the implementation of social justice.

He begins by describing the current state of Israeli education: because equal opportunity in education is directly linked to upward social mobility, ensuring that students from all socio-economic classes receive the same education is portrayed as the way to close gaps in society. He argues, however, that this approach comes at the expense of the educational philosophy of the educators of the previous generation, who sought to shape students into “civically and morally conscientious individuals”.

While today’s educators want to ensure that their “products” will be financially successful by ensuring equal opportunity, the educators of yesteryear cultivated political, cultural and intellectual leaders by creating an educational elite in society. They accepted the inborn differences in various sectors of society and created a system that would make the best of said inequalities. Avner assures that all students were treated equally within this elite group, but there was an understanding that secondary education was not suitable for all, and accepting everyone would only create social and academic issues

Avner draws a link between the demand for equality and the deterioration of academic standards in Israeli schools. This philosophy manifests itself in a system that sees general liberal-arts education as an unnecessary indulgence, as it has no measurable results. Ironically, the focus on egalitarianism has had the opposite effect. Wealthy parents dissatisfied with their children’s subpar education simply switch them to private schools, which of course, makes the goal of equality even more elusive.

Avner attempts to account for the cause of the paradigm shift from moral improvement to equality in Israel, by tracing its parallel trends in America and Europe. He argues that doctrines of liberalism and individualism in liberalist-capitalist societies turn a blind eye to virtue, moral conduct and the notion of an unbreakable bond between a person and the race, ethnicity, class or gender into which he was born. The chief objective of the modern, Western education systems is the advancement of equal economic opportunity for all, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities.

Avner understands the challenges of placing moral edification as a chief educational goal, such as deciding which qualities should be nurtured, but he, nevertheless, sees it as an ideal worth pursuing. He urges Israel’s educators to pay more attention to the educational principles of the system’s founding fathers, by arguing that the focus of education is the cultivation of moral virtues, not the administration of justice.

Molcho, Avner, “Education’s Forsaken Vision”, Azure: Ideas for the Jewish Nation, 42 (2010), pp. 58-82.  See www.azure.org.il/article.php?id=551.


~~~~~~~~~
 

4.         Marshall Memo: Report Cards Emphasizing Student Mastery, Not Compliant Behavior

In this New York Times article, Peg Tyre reports on a Minnesota middle school’s discovery that about 10 percent of students who were getting As and Bs on their report cards did poorly on end-of-year state tests while 10 percent of students with Cs, Ds, and Fs on their report cards did well on state tests. Katie Berglund, the principal of this 950-student school, realized that “many teachers had been grading kids for compliance – not for mastering the course material. A portion of our A and B students,” she said, “were not the ones who were gaining the most knowledge but the ones who had learned to do school the best.”

So the school implemented a standards-based report card, which put the main emphasis on “knowledge” grades, computed by averaging end-of-unit test scores. Unit tests can be re-taken any time during the semester as long as students have completed all homework, and remedial classes are offered all year. There is a separate “life skills” grade for work habits, attitude, effort, and citizenship. Since implementing the new report card format, some students’ grades have gone up and some have gone down; Berglund believes that current grades more accurately reflect students’ mastery of what’s being taught.

David Krenz, the superintendent of the district, has heard some parent complaints about the new system, but he believes that standards-based report cards are a real improvement. “Before we started this,” he said, “a teacher could complain to a parent that their child slumps in the back of the classroom and doesn’t bring a pencil. Now the conversation is about the fact that the child doesn’t know how to calculate slope, and we can put our heads together – parents and teachers and administrator – to figure out how to help that child obtain that skill.”

Patrick Grady, superintendent of schools in Potsdam, New York, another district moving to standards-based report cards, agrees. “We are getting rid of grade fog,” he says. “We need to stop overlooking kids who can do the work and falsely inflate grades of kids who can’t but who look good. We think this will be good for everyone.”

“No More A’s for Good Behavior” by Peg Tyre in The New York Times, Nov. 28, 2010 (p. 3); search at http://www.nytimes.com/ (registration required).
 
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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