'A tale of two cultures' : a dialogical study of the cultures of a Jewish and a Catholic secondary school
Topics: Main Topic: Education, Jewish Schools, Jewish - Christian Relations, Dialogue, Comparisons with other communities, Ethnography, Interfaith Dialogue
Abstract: Interpreting culture as symbols, stories, rituals and values, the thesis explores the culture of a Jewish and a Catholic secondary school in a dialogical way. The survey of the literature in Chapter 1 identifies relevant school-based research and locates the chosen case-study schools within the context of the British 'dual system'. Chapter 2 draws on the theoretical and methodological literatures of inter-faith dialogue and ethnography to develop and defend a paradigm for the research defined as open-inclusivist and constructivist. The main body of the thesis (Chapters 3-5), based on field-work undertaken in 1996 and 1997, presents the two schools in parallel with each other. Chapter 3 describes the details of the case studies at 'St. Margaret's' and 'Mount Sinai' and my developing research relationship with each school. In Chapter 4 many different voices from each school are woven into two 'tales' about the schools' cultures. This central chapter has a deliberately narrative style. Chapter 5 amplifies the cultural tales through the analysis of broadly quantitative data gained from an extensive questionnaire administered to a sample of senior students in each school. It is the only place in the thesis where views and values from the two schools are directly compared. The final two chapters widen the horizon of the study. Chapter 6 presents voices which were not part of the original case studies but which relate, in different ways, to the culture of the two schools. Chapter 7, with theoretical ideas about Jewish schools and education, and Catholic schools and education, provides resources for further dialogue about culture within Judaism and Catholicism and for Jewish-Christian dialogue. The thesis ends with some reflections on possible implications of the two cultures for discussions about the common good in education.
A unitary philosophy for U.K. Jewish primary schools educating pupils within two diverse educational conceptions: The Jewish religious and that of the national curriculum
Topics: Orthodox Judaism, Haredi / Strictly Orthodox Jews, Schools: Primary / Elementary, Curriculum, Jewish Schools, Main Topic: Education
Abstract: This philosophy addresses the complex educational issues arising in Anglo-Jewish education catering for a community which is rooted in two cultures: the Jewish-Orthodox and the Western-liberal, a community that incorporates all aspects of Western culture that do not conflict with Jewish law or its value system. Underpinned by diverse ontologies and epistemologies these cultures differ in many aspects, most significantly for educators, in their value systems and therefore in the hermeneutic understanding of the "excellences" to be designated as ultimate and proximate aims for the education. Whereas the liberal Western culture endorses anti-authoritarian, individual autonomy, the Jewish thesis endorses such only in areas for which Jewish law has not legislated. For all other, free choices are to be exercised against the divinely commanded value system. The National Curriculum, through which secular subjects are delivered, and Judaism both require holism in education. In both, all knowledge is to serve also as a vehicle for pupils' overall personal and social growth: the cognitive/intellectual, ethical, spiritual and physical. Since holism necessarily has to be governed by an overall organic quality of wholeness, in which all the educational aims permeate every area of education, it is axiomatic that contradictions in the aims cannot be accommodated within any specific educational structure. This unitary philosophy responds to the requirements of holism by establishing an educational structure which, in itself, is free of conflict. This is achievable due to the liberal National Curriculum's acceptance, qua being liberal, of non-public values to overlay the statutory political ones in the entire school's curriculum — which, for Jewish education is the Halakhic value system. A conflict-free philosophy, however, does not guarantee conflict-free development of pupils who live their lives within both the Jewish thesis and the all pervasive, multi-media imposed Western culture. The unitary philosophy sets out strategies for dealing with these conflicts within carefully structured programmes.
The effects of a Jewish primary school education in England on the religious observance and practice of less or non-observant parents of the pupils
Topics: Jewish Involvment, Jewish Schools, Jewish Pupils, Psychology, Parenthood, Schools: Primary / Elementary, Main Topic: Education
Abstract: The main aim of this research is to determine whether or not there has been any noticeable change in the level of religious observance and practice of less or non-observant parents which directly or indirectly can be attributed to the influence of their children and the Jewish primary school they attend. There is a frequently voiced assumption amongst those involved in Jewish education that parents, whose children attend a Jewish primary school, have increased their level of observance due to the influence of their children and the school. However, no previous research has been carried out in the United Kingdom in order to examine the basis of this premise. The purpose ofmy own research is to test this assumption in a thorough and rigorous manner by means of both questionnaires and in-depth interviews with parents of pupils attending three Jewish primary schools in England. In addition, there are two further specific areas that will be investigated as supplementary parts ofthe main research: [i] To compare the extent of similarities and differences of any such changes in religious observance between those Jewish families in England who formed part ofmy study, and those in the USA whose children attend Jewish day schools, who have also been the subject of separate research in the USA. [ii] To determine whether within the data of this research study, there is any correlation with previous research in the field of social psychology regarding causes and effects of social conformity and deviation. The data from this specific area of research will be used to focus on the effects of a crucial inter-connection between parents, children and the school. The thesis includes an examination of previous allied research and its implications relating to the nature of religious identity and changes in parental behaviour attributed to the influence of their children's Jewish education. It also contains chapters outlining the historical and social background which led to a weakening ofJewish religious observance in the UK during the zo" century and a study of the changing role of the traditional Jewish family and its effect on the levels of religious observance in Anglo-Jewry. The data from questionnaires and interviews are analysed in a thorough manner. The results and conclusions of this thesis should be of benefit to those planning and administering Jewish primary schools in the UK.