by Barbara Rosoff
In response to the question “Who is wise?” Ben Zoma replies “One who learns from all.” Rabbi Joseph Hertz reflects upon the eloquence and simplicity of both question and answer, and comments that, in addition, a wise person has an open mind. (Hertz, 1945). With these sage words to guide us, we begin our quest to determine what we can learn from secular education that will enhance Jewish education.
An obvious place to start is with the teacher. Teachers’ thinking, planning, and decision-making constitute a large part of the psychological context of teaching. Within this context, curriculum is interpreted and acted upon. This is where teachers teach and students learn. Secular school research in this area has just begun to describe in detail the many ways in which teaching is complex, demanding, and uniquely human. Suffice it to say that what is taught and learned by the student, the atmosphere in the classroom, and teacher-student relationships are motivated in part and frequently by the mental constructs of the teacher. It is incumbent upon both teacher and supervisor to be aware of and sensitive to this area.