People familiar with modern scholarship in the field of Jewish education know Alex Pomson. He is Principal and Managing Director of Rosov Consulting Israel, and is renowned worldwide as an expert on Jewish day school.
Pomson also has a special connection to the GTA. He was Koschitzky Family Chair in Jewish Teacher Education at York University where he was the coordinator of York’s Jewish Teacher Education Programme. When he writes about Jewish education it is worthwhile to pay attention.
Last week, Pomson published an article on eJewishPhilanthropy entitled The Promise of Day School Education: Cultural Virtuosity in which he effusively celebrates the potential of day school education “to create Jewish cultural virtuosos – people with outstanding ability to contribute to Jewish culture” thereby permanently contributing to the life of the student and to surrounding society.
He recorded his thoughts after a visit to a day school in Nashville and one in Chicago during the post-Pesach holidays.
“Hundreds of miles apart, these students were being initiated into the essentials of Jewish culture: the ability to tell stories about profound moments from the Jewish past, contribute to the well-being of society, engage in meaning-generating text-study, pray fluently, and appreciate Israel’s significance. These skills and knowledge went beyond merely being culturally competent.
“Research about those who become virtuosos in music, art, and business highlights the benefits of doing the same tasks repeatedly….
“In a day school setting, through the repeated practice of well-crafted experiences, day after day, week after week, year after year, children have an opportunity to become virtuosos of sorts. The day school setting offers a routinized structure (routine in the healthy sense of regularized) with the opportunity over time for learners to internalize important values, become experts in complex endeavors, and grow in responsibility – when skilled school leadership and educators are in place. With the possibility of achieving such outcomes, day school students have a launching pad from which to make a decisive contribution to Jewish communal thriving.”
We do not frequently enough hear about or read of the rich, long-lasting, transformative value of a day school education, let alone of its excellence. And yet what is true in the GTA, is probably true in every community where Jews live, the vast majority of graduates from a Jewish high school will be able to move on and succeed to the next stage of their lives, whether at university, college or other places of post secondary study, employment or other manner of personal adventure and development.
For most of our children, day school is a profoundly positive experience. Pomson adds that it can be a potential preparation for surpassingly virtuosic performances later in life. If only it were affordable for all the families that seek such education for their children.
Pomson’s full article is available here