The power of educational visions is amply evident in the history of educational thought, both in the general and Jewish sphere (Fox, Scheffler, Marom, 2003 p.9)
One of the annual highlights of the LSJS MA in Jewish Education is a session in the third module of the programme when students present posters that visually encapsulate their own personal visions of Jewish education. They have up to fifteen minutes to explain the background, rationale and content related to their vision, based on what has inspired them during this module. This is not an exercise in the creative arts – we are not looking for great works to hang in the Tate Modern in London. What we are looking for are visual aids which help to tell a narrative – what is it that excites each one of our students? What is at the core of their educational philosophy, and how have they arrived at this point?
The students, whether they are on campus or on-line, study and critique different visions of Jewish Education. For each, they look at the critical factors and how they are interrelated. The core text for this module is the book quoted from above: Visions of Jewish Education by Fox, Scheffler and Marom (2003), one of the most influential books on Jewish educational vision for students of Jewish education. Intended to stimulate debate in a philosophical re-envisioning of Jewish life and learning, through this book six scholars were invited to formulate their visions for Jewish education. Apart from the ripples it caused throughout the Jewish education world, this book triggered a series of thought provoking articles and conversations in the pages of the Journal of Jewish Education, initiated by Jon Levisohn (2005 Volume 71:1).
Most importantly, through the module, we encourage our students to relate what they have read and explored to their own education and teaching experience. Students, argue and debate until they have worked out a personal vision of Jewish education for themselves. They then explore how their visions influence the day to day practice in their schools and communities.
The poster below represents the educational vision of Jeanie Horowitz (graduate, LSJS MA Jewish Education 2017). She says: “[This poster] gave me the space to think deeply about why I work in Jewish education and to articulate my passion…. it hangs in my office as an inspiration when I lose my way.”
You definitely don’t need to be an MA student to create a vision for Jewish education. In fact, we strongly recommend that all educators and teachers spend a few hours working on their own personal vision. Ask yourself – what is my ultimate goal for my students? For my school? For the Jewish people? How can I live this vision in my classroom day by day?
A vision is neither finite, nor static. Re-visit your vision on a regular basis. Discuss it with your colleagues. Keep it fresh and vibrant, so that the power of your vision can help shape the Jewish education happening in your school or community.
Dr. Helena Miller and Dr Tamra Wright
London School of Jewish Studies
Fox, S., Scheffler, I. and Marom, D. (2003), Visions of Jewish Education, Cambridge: University Press
Levisohn J (2005) Ideas and Ideals of Jewish Education: Initiating a Conversation on ‘Visions of Jewish Education’, Journal of Jewish Education 71:1 pp55-66