Jewish Pedagogical Tradition 


Jewish culture has a reputation for cherishing “learning”: A person who is unlearned, according to the tradition of Judaism, ignores God.
Some even consider education to  be the primary religious activity in Jeudaism. Historically, the number of people with Jewish backgroud who contributed to the development of human civiliazation is enormous. What is the education philosophy behind it? What principals and teaching methods led to such a contribution?


Read on for a glimpse of what's in my upcoming book!


 


 
Foundations of Jewish learning methods
​​It is said that the belief of the Jews to be God-chosen had enormous impact on their self-awareness: Yahweh was God above all, but he chose only the Jews for his patronage. This shaped the people in a special way: ​​the continuation of the family became sacred, schools held the same importance as temples. The teacher did not receive any salary, for it was said, the knowledge was given by God without cost, and should also be passed on cost-free. Teachers enjoyed a great reputation. Although a father was considered an absolute authority in a family, an ancient saying taught: "If you see your father and teacher stumble at the same time, hand your hand to the teacher first".

Here are some more Jewish proverbs related to learning - no wonder such conventional wisdome brings such beautiful fruits:

Study leads to action [BT, Kiddushin 40b]


Every place of study has its own innovation [BT, Hagigah 3a]


One who studies his lesson a hundred times is not the same as one who studies it one hundred and one times [BT, Hagigah 9b]


I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students [Ta’anit 7a]


If you forsake study for one day, it will forsake you for two [Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 14d]


May the honor of your student be as precious as your own honor [Avot 4.12]






Havruta: the practice of students studying materials in pairs
Havruta is one of the most efficient learning tools ever: it is used in particular to work on complex texts. 
Havruta is a traditional form of Torah study in pairs. The students sit opposite each other, and read and analyze the text independently, without a teacher. They can ask questions, discuss, argue, and even disagree with each other, each defending his opinion, his own understanding of the text.
Havruta, as a rule, consists of people who are at similar levels  of study; they move together at their own pace.