Sunday, November 29

Found in Translation

My friend, colleague, (and boss) at ATID, R. Jeffrey Saks, has done some interesting work of late on the ways in which classrooms might gain or lose by using the Vilna Shas, the Shteinzaltz, and Artscroll Gemaras. One seminar appears on YUTorah, and another set of seminars as part of the Azrieli Graduate Schools Institute for University-School Partnership, available in two parts here and here.

Thursday, November 26

Hell as Informal Education

I suppose that this is one kind of experiential, informal education. Not my cup of tea- I was never one for guts and gore - but if it saves a few people from purgatory, perhaps it's worth it. (There's also a discussion of "Hell Houses" in this book.)

Tuesday, November 24

Great Family Outing, but What a Scam...

Parents, kids, and the great outdoors. That autumn right of passage: apple picking. What a scam!

The Mission of Orthodoxy Project

Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein, in conjunction with WebYeshiva, has taken on one ambitious project. To articulate the mission of Orthodox Judaism in a way that he takes to be "unequivocal and unarguable to anyone who accepts the authority of the texts of Jewish history." I don't know if he can make good on the promise, but if he can succeed even partially to "recover the sense of focus and mission that Jewish sources tell Jews to bring to their lives" then it will be well worth the effort.

Sunday, November 22

Three-Year College

I don't know if it makes any educational sense to cram college into three years, but it sure makes economic sense, and that seems to be what matters these days.

Thursday, November 19


Yup, admit it, you yell at your kids, even when you know it's the wrong thing to do. Well, you're in the same boat as everyone else. The NY Times reports.

Tuesday, November 17

How to Help Good Teachers and Undermine Education

The more successful the teacher, the more he or she should be paid. Makes sense. Unfortunately, in at least one study, it doesn't work. When teachers get paid more if students get good grades, you get grade inflation. When teachers get paid more if students do well on standardized tests, school becomes a series of test-prep workshops, and real mastery is cast by the wayside. When only some teachers can gain the salary bonuses, then teachers start competing with one another and stop collaborating.

Sunday, November 15

How Schools Can Beat the Recession and Improve Test Scores

This is really too bad to be true. A school in North Caroline is, quite literally, selling points on a test, in order to raise money. (If this is succesful, perhaps they can raise even more by having kids pay not to bother coming.)

Thursday, November 12

Who is a Jew, but with a British Accent

The fact that the British government pays for the secular education in Jewish day schools is obviously an advantage. The disadvantage is that their courts get to decide who is a Jew. The NY Times reports.

The Next Generation of Debt

What do today's students need to know about the massive debt that they will end up paying back for the US? Not much, it seems. But this website can help. (Warning: it's pretty depressing.)

Tuesday, November 10

Bowing to the gods of the test score

Who cares about broadening horizons, experiencing new things, airing out, multi-sensory learning, and just plain fun!? Now that the NY Times has set me straight, I now understand the real reason to take urban kids on a field trip to the farm: it boosts their test scores.

Sunday, November 8

Teachers Can Save the Planet

It's the little things that matter, like chalk vs. dry-erase markers . You CAN save the planet!

Thursday, November 5

Kids, 1; Parents, 0

A new generation of children's books shows tantrumy, defiant kids pushing around their namby-pamby, politically correct parents. It's not a pretty sight.

Cultural Literacy: Does It Work?

Its an old debate between those who claim that "real" education involves extensive background knowledge in an established cultural canon, and the constructivists, who argue that any given canon is artificial and that we should give students more leeway in determining what they learn and how they learn it. Perhaps the experience in one State can help answer that question once and for all (or not).

Tuesday, November 3


Well, it's not Torah Lishmah, but it is Mortimer Adler (founder of the "great-books" movement) reflecting on a lifetime of learning for its own sake.