Pedagogy Lishma

Using studies of teaching to promote teacher learning

Cover of Turn It and Turn It AgainWhat's the purpose of investigating the teaching of Jewish texts, as the Mandel Center's Bridging Initiative has done through the publication of working papers and the edited volume "Turn It and Turn It Again"? The purpose is this: to benefit teachers and teaching.

We believe that, when teachers have the opportunity to encounter these investigations — when they deepen their curiosity about the complex practice of teaching — they will become better teachers over time. Our shorthand for this is pedagogy lishma, that is, the study of teaching for the sake of growth rather than for the sake of direct application of methods.

But what actually happens when teachers of Jewish texts encounter studies of the teaching of Jewish texts? What do they learn? How is that learning expressed?

This project explored these questions through a small-scale design experiment. A small group of Jewish day school Jewish text and Jewish studies teachers participated in a series of six seminars, led by Ziva Reimer Hassenfeld (Stanford University), about the teaching of classical Jewish texts. Participants also engaged in online discussions, and were interviewed about their evolving ideas about teaching. These materials provided the data to illuminate the teachers' learning over the course of the program.

Project leaders are now analyzing the data from the study group and preparing a publication with their findings.