Weekly Update: August 26, 2016 — 22 Av 5776

Defining Educational Success

In the book to which we referred last week, It’s Our Challenge: A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to Jewish Education, Dr. Jonathan Mirvis, dedicates an entire chapter to “How do we define educational success?”

Mirvis writes: “The question is of major significance. The social entrepreneurial perspective pushes us to focus our efforts on creating and sustaining social value. Thus both for the entrepreneur and for other stakeholders in an educational endeavor a clear definition of educational value is crucial.”

He identifies three different approaches to defining educational value, the attainment of which entails educational success. Each approach aims toward different outcomes and adopts different strategies. The three approaches are: literacy, relevancy and meaning, and identity and continuity. It is worthwhile to read Mirvis’ descriptions of the three. (The following is a short one or two line précis. In his book, Mirvis leads an extensive discussion on each.)

a. Literacy. “The goal is to ensure that the participants will be able to participate in the “Great Conversation” [concerning Judaism in all its facets). Participation in the great conversation is an ideal of liberal arts education, as articulated by Robert Hutchins.”

b. Relevancy and Meaning. “The goal is to enable the individual to fulfill his or her personal potential. This approach places the individual at the center of the educational enterprise and attaches importance to each individual’s quest to realize his or her full potential.”

c. Identity and Continuity. “The proponents of this approach are deeply committed to social continuity. They are concerned that future generations will neither treasure nor safeguard the prevailing values of the society and believe that education should facilitate continuity.”

Mirvis’ definitions are very helpful and instructive. GAJE accepts them all because they apply to all of us according to our own unique hopes and objectives for our own lives and for the lives our children. If fulfilled, each approach enriches and enhances the vibrancy and wellbeing of our community.


GAJE committees – Funding, Legal and Political, and Communications – are steadily and steadfastly working toward future announcements.

Shabbat shalom.


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