During our high speed rabbinics class there is no time to tell you something important and precious that I’ve gained: the opportunity to puzzle over texts in pairs. I am amazed at how joyful and productive “chevruta” study has been. I wish I had known about this practice earlier, for I have long sought a helpful other perspective from fellow students. Thanks to Reuven’s requirement that we learn in pairs, outside of class (though me and my partner were both shy at first), we now can tolerate differences in how we read text. I now prize being able to ask questions of-and listen to-others.
I wish educators in all subject domains would know and cultivate dialogue in pairs in any new learning. The do-it-alone methods of my early schooling are not the best way to learn. Reading text and expressing ideas out loud are legitimate and far more fruitful forms of study.
I have been a painter and a writer on art. My academic field focuses on the human part of art: art education, with a specialization in methods Americans have used to teach art here since the dawn of our nation. I have trained artists to become teachers for twenty-five years! I have also struggled with a reading disability that fortunately did not prevent me from receiving a doctorate in the psychology of art. What a richer education I would have had, had my teachers known and appreciated the gold that gets mined in working in pairs, in chevruta study. Thank you for showing us all how to effectively decipher difficult texts. With this rabbinics course you have presented me with new options; you have answered “how to teach” questions that have long been on my mind.
Professor Emerita Massachusetts College of Art & Design
P.S. Below is a painting titled “Summer Shabbos night outdoors 1957.” It is my earliest expression of my Jewishness, painted at age 15 after many Friday nights of watching and listening to “The Rebbe,” Rebbe Schneerson, dovening with many many men outside 770 Eastern Parkway. (My grandparents’ home was next door.) I painted myself into the picture; I am the girl with the dark hair and ponytail, watching the men through the chain link fence.