Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This weekend I read the following article:
"Learning or Knowing ;Which Takes Precedence? by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University

Unfortunately right now the article is not available on line.

 There was a also a second piece titled  "Perspective on the Field by Dr. Eliezer Jones

Below are some quotes from Dr Lamm   followed by those of Dr. Jones

"Judaism, then, takes exactly the opposite worldview of the Greeks, and holds 
that becoming takes precedence over being. Accordingly, we believe that study 
is more important than knowledge. If knowledge is a state of Being, studying 
is an act of Becoming. As one studies, he keeps growing and growing.

"This preference for the process explains what the Sages mean when they say, 
“According to the pain is the reward.” 
What one is rewarded for is the pain 
involved in the process - the pain of studying, the 
pain of researching, the pain of thinking, the pain 
of solving conflicts- the pain of being confronted 
by one’s own ignorance and struggling to 
overcome it"Dr Lamm

"Learning by oneself as an adult is in a sense derivative of the 
requirement to teach one’s children. For Judaism, teaching children becomes 
more important than teaching adults. Why? Although the end product is 
considered important, the process - the study - is much more important. 
This explains why our emphasis is on child education, as opposed to adult 
education Dr Lamm

"As I am somewhat connected to the field of education myself, I know that 
teachers are very often frustrated. There is a very high degree of burnout. It 
isn’t easy to be a teacher. Therefore, educators frequently fret. I have heard 
this from many teachers in elementary schools, in high schools, and even in 
universities. They complain that they put so much effort into teaching and 
they don’t produce results. They don’t see the students getting as much as they 
should out of school. They feel frustrated by not being able to do all they hoped.

they could. Both the quantity learned and the joy of learning are less than they 
ought to be. The struggle is often a very disheartening one.
Nevertheless, my friends and colleagues who are in the field of education need 
to remember this idea. The process is more important than the results. The 
very act of teaching, the struggle of challenging the students, is worthwhile 
even if it does not succeed in the way the teacher would like, and even if it 
appears to fall on deaf ears. That is the greatness of our craft, of our profession, 
of our call, of our commitment."  Dr Lamm 

"Twenty-first century  education continues to recognize the need for teaching core content, but as 
information becomes more available and easily accessible, skills like creativity, 
collaboration, problem solving, innovation, communication, digital citizenship 
and critical thinking have become the primary skill base. As Rabbi Dr. Lamm 
suggests, the process of learning, not just knowing, is significant." Dr. Eliezer Jones

"As Rabbi Dr. Lamm articulates, Jewish education needs to focus less on the 
“downloading” of information and more on the process of learning. While 
there is value in knowledge, in the digital information age, it is the learning that 
must be at the forefront." Dr Eliezer Jones

As many of us are ending another school year I think we should be asking ourselves a new set of questions. Rather than asking how much  do my students know or how much did a I cover ( a phrase I abhor) we should be asking these questions:

  • How did my students grow this year?
  • What types of questions did my students ask?
  • Do my students know how to think?
  • Did I make them think?
  • Did I push my students out of their comfort zone?
  • Did I emphasize the importance of the learning process?
I am not saying that students don't need to have basic skills and knowledge, they need that in all areas but what is our focus and more than that do we teach our students that the process of learning is also part of learning and also matters, perhaps more than the knowledge itself. 

Please share what questions you would add


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