Wednesday, January 31

The Rav and HaRav

In the summer of 1935, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik visited Eretz Yisrael for the first and only time, as a candidate for the position of Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. During that trip, the Rav met with “Ha- Rav” -- Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Rav Avraham Yitzhak ha-Kohen Kook, who was in the final stages of his last illness (he died on September 1 of that year). Rav Kook was reported to have said that “the experience of speaking with the young Rabbi Soloveitchik reminded him of his earliest years when he was a student” attending shiurim of Reb Hayyim Brisker at the Volozhin yeshiva, and he maintained “that the power of genius of the grandfather now resides with the grandson.”
More on the only meeting of the two most prominent ba’alei mahshava of the twentieth century here.

The new issue of Tradition is online for subscribers (features symposium on was and the Jewish tradition). The previous issue is available to all online here.

Blog and Vent

Teachers are using their own blogs to vent frustrations and defend their work, but they walk a fine line with administrators when airing school business in public is concerned...
Click here.

Tuesday, January 30

Creative Answer

What?! No points for a creative answer?

Monday, January 29


The very interesting, new journal Hakirah makes back issues available online. The most recent issue is here, and the TOC of the new issue (with abstracts) is here.

Sunday, January 28

Homework On The Ropes

A new paper has found that worldwide, students with more homework often have lower math scores.

Some of the nation's most competitive schools are changing their homework policies, limiting the amount of work assigned by teachers or eliminating it altogether in lower grades. There also is an effort by some schools to change the type of homework being assigned and curtail highly repetitive drudge work. Wall Street Journal reports...

(Archive of anti-homewpork links here.)

Thursday, January 25


Eton, the English boarding school which has been educating viceroys, prime ministers, and kings since 1440, is an institution with a strong ethos. We found this interesting quote in a Eton Renewed: A History From 1860 to the Present Day (p. 26), citing the words of one 19th century Eton master:

At school you are engaged not so much in acquiring knowledge as in making mental efforts under criticism. A certain amount of knowledge you can indeed with average faculties acquire so as to retain; nor need you regret the hours you spent on much that is forgotten, for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions. But you go to a great school not so much for knowledge as for arts and habits; for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment's notice a new intellectual position, for the art of entering quickly into another person's thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of regarding minute points of accuracy, for the art of working out what is possible in a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage, and for mental soberness. Above all, you go to a great school for self-knowledge.

What would we write about our Jewish schools?

Tuesday, January 23

The Ballgame

An educational experiment in 1989 pitted a group of students with high reading scores, selected especially for their lack of interest in baseball, against a group of low-scoring students who happened to be avid baseball fans. The two groups were asked to demonstrate their reading comprehension of a passage on baseball.

Can you guess which team won?

Monday, January 22

In The Middle

Middle School, as its name implies, is stuck between two other entities -- but is it meant to be "junior high" or "senior elementary" school? Should we dunk kids into the deep end or shelter them a bit longer?
Click here.

Friday, January 19


Here's a simple statistical fact: Half of all people are of below-average intelligence. The Wall Street Journal therefore runs a 3-part series arguing that too many of them go to college.
Does it follow? Judge for yourself:
Part I - Part II - Part III

Wednesday, January 17


Jewish Week features art intitiatives in American Jewish schools.
Click here for the SAR experience.

Monday, January 15


Malcolm Gladwell -- author of Tipping Point and Blink -- on the psychology (or whatever his field is) of child prodigies, the gifted, illuyim, etc., and why it's not always predictive of future genius.
Click here.


Sunday, January 14

Parents At Risk

"You can scream about the Internet crisis, the chat rooms, and the mysterious people your kids meet online. You can blame cable TV, MTV, or the music being pumped into your kid’s ears. You can fault the schools, the friends, or the drugs. While all of these certainly affect your children in a negative way, I feel the number one reason is often overlooked: you -- the parents of these kids—are responsible, and the problem will never be solved until you admit it."

Opinion piece from the 5 Towns Jewish Times -- click here.

Thursday, January 11

Read, Boy, Read!

The New York Times debuted a new weekly column: "Lessons", a new feature that will examine problems teachers encounter in the classroom and how they deal with them.

In the first installment: how a young boy learned how to read (to a dog).
Click here.

Monday, January 8

Higher Concerns

To produce the leadership that the Jewish people and the State of Israel need today, are there any common denomonators that must be nurtured? Duh?! Education -- and a higher education that values the humanities.
The encouragement of great leadership is not an exact science; but neither is it rocket science. It begins with education, and in particular, a university system that provides far more than vocational preparation for the next generation of high-tech wunderkinder. It requires a profound investment in Jewish and Western humanities, for only in this way can a generation of citizens emerge who understand the meaning of our past, the imperative of public service, the reasons for sacrifice, the possibilities of the spirit, the obligations of ethics, and the unique potential of the Jewish people.

...says the editors of Azure (link)


Our friend R. Alex Israel at ThinkTorah (link) has covered the recent psak (or truthful comment) from R. Avraham Shapira against elitist, exclusive schools.

More here and here.

Sunday, January 7


Which of us isn't dependant on computers for our careers -- especially in teaching. Can you imagine losing a year's worth of lesson plans?! Oy gevalt!

And which of us is as careful about backing up files as we should be? We learned the hard way.
NYT profiles some new and easy options for protecting your files. Click here.

Wednesday, January 3


The handy-dandy guide to adding nikkud (vowels) to Hebrew Word documents is available here.

Tuesday, January 2

Philosophy for Kids

The 13th conference of the International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children will be held in Jerusalem on June 4-7, 2007.
For details, click here.