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Title: Education and the sacred : Judaic holiness and the dynamics of teaching and learning
Author: Calvert, Isaac
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 9438
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the nature and dynamics of the relationship between Judaic holiness and Jewish teaching and learning practices. One way of examining this relationship is by focusing on sacred content. The contribution of this thesis is to go beyond sacred content to also focus on teaching as a sacred act - in other words, approaching teaching as sacred, rather than teaching the sacred. Findings build upon and reinforce existing literature on Judaic holiness, but make an original contribution by placing these perspectives in a specifically educative context. I investigated this relationship from an ethnographic perspective, attending three Orthodox Jewish learning communities (yeshivot) in Jerusalem over a period of six months. Acting as participant observer, I attended classes, studied with students, collected artifacts, took daily field notes and conducted in-depth qualitative interviews. As I analyzed fieldwork data together with relevant academic literature and sacred Jewish texts, a number of key themes emerged. These themes are described in three findings chapters. They outline methodological, experiential, teleological, relational, environmental, structural and theological dimensions of the sacred in Jewish educative practice. From the perspective of study participants, teaching and learning are not only related to the sacred, but themselves constitute a sacred act. While academic literature tends to focus on the human elements of sanctity, and confessional religious literatures on its theistic dimensions, this thesis illustrates a dynamic way of dovetailing these two approaches. Considered from the Judaic perspectives of study participants, the sanctity of teaching and learning is seen to be both contingent upon human, volitional action as well as a connection to God. Such actualized sanctification is believed to affect and even qualitatively alter the nature of educative methods, environments, encounters and, ultimately, the ontology and capacity of both teachers and learners. This has implications for educative practice more broadly conceived, including insights on the role of a teacher in the student-teacher relationship, an alternative perspective on learning outcomes, a remembrance-oriented epistemology, a teleological connection between teaching and learning and the value of struggle in the learning process.
Supervisor: Mills, David ; Gearon, Liam Sponsor: PESGB Early Career Researchers Grant
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education ; sacred ; religious education