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Teaching & Learning Principles in the Pirkei Avot: A Jewish Educative Perspective

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Nicholas Bown

This article outlines the principles of teaching and learning found within the Pirkei Avot (פרקי אבות), a primary sacred text within Mishnaic Jewish textual tradition. This project seeks to contribute to a growing scholarly conversation about educative principles from the perspective of various cross-cultural and multifaith traditions around the world. In other words, seeing that there are educative perspectives which have been largely under-researched among contemporary educationalists because of their origins in sacred texts, we seek to bring some of these perspectives (in this case, those within the Pirkei Avot) into the conversation based on the assumption that they may be of philosophical, historical and practical value in contexts outside those of confessional religious education. In order to identify the salient teaching and learning principles found within the Pirkei Avot, we did a qualitative textual analysis of an English translation while consulting with the original Hebrew text. We began with a preliminary analysis of the text and created an initial list of salient passages thematically related to educative principles (e.g., teaching, learning, etc.). We then conducted secondary and tertiary analyses that further honed these salient themes into six core principles. These include orality as a sacred mode of instruction, diligence as essential to a student's character and practice, reverence as a core dimension of the student-teacher relationship, the need to act in accordance with one's knowledge, the importance of an ethic of care in pursuit of knowledge, and that learning with others is essentially more efficacious than learning alone. It is our hope that these principles will add further context to and perhaps come to more deeply inform contemporary perspectives not only regarding the history and philosophy of education, but concerning current practices of teaching and learning, as well.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Area of Research: Education
Faculty Mentor: Isaac Calvert
Location: Sill Center Conference Room (9:20am)