Academic Year 2011-2012
Aliza Segal holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her BA and MA (Bible) from Yeshiva University preceded years of work as a classroom teacher in the United States and Israel, with additional experience in adult education, curriculum writing, teacher training, and practitioner research (ATID, Jerusalem). Aliza is also a certified Yoetzet Halakhah (Halakhic Advisor). Her recent fellowships include the Kaufmann Fellowship for Excellence, Melton Center for Jewish Education, Hebrew University; the Emerging Scholars Award, Network for Research in Jewish Education; and an International Doctoral Scholarship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. She spent the final year of her doctoral studies as a Fellow in the new Mandel Scholars in Education program at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.
Identity Plus Expertise Equals Authenticity:
A Qualitative Study of a Talmud Class
Teaching Talmud in a school setting is a challenging endeavor, owing to the difficulty of the text and to its perceived irrelevance to the lives of contemporary students. There is much literature lamenting the state of affairs or prescribing ways to change it. I have conducted an ethnographic case study of one Talmud class in an Orthodox high school for boys in Israel, and have found a story of success. I locate this success on the "authenticity" side of the authenticity-relevance divide, and propose to study this authenticity, and the accompanying success, via two separate but related avenues. The first avenue is identity. I will explore the constructed identities of the students as Talmud learners, through analysis of thirteen interviews with students in the class. The second avenue is expertise. I seek to uncover which learning practices are constructed by the participants as intrinsic to the Talmud-study endeavor, and to construct a taxonomy of practices and expertise in Talmud study within the school setting. I hope thereby to make a valuable contribution to the field of Talmud education in particular, and cultural transmission via text study in general.