The staff of the Visions of Jewish Education Project wishes to express its great shock and sadness at the sudden death of the founder of our project, Prof. Seymour Fox ז"ל.
Click here to go to a collection of tributes to Prof. Fox.
Fox was the founder and director of the Visions Project and Director of Programs of the Mandel Foundation worldwide. He was Professor of Education, Emeritus, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he directed the School of Education.
Fox wrote and edited works on curriculum theory and practice in general and Jewish education, including Freud and Education and From the Scholar to the Classroom: Translating Jewish Tradition into Curriculum.
He founded several institutions of Jewish education in the United States and Israel, including the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; the Melton Centre for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Hebrew University; the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows program; and the Mandel School for Educational Leadership in Israel.
Recently a collection of essays on Fox's work and celebrating his ideas, Educational Deliberations: Studies in Education Dedicated to Shlomo (Seymour) Fox, was published by Keter Press (Jerusalem, 2005). A brief "Biography of Seymour Fox," as well as articles on "Seymour Fox in America: Themes in a Career in Jewish Education" by Barry Holtz and "Seymour Fox in Israel" by Chava Shane-Sagiv are available here. A list of Fox's publications is available as well.
Daniel Marom has written a portrait showing how Fox's practice embodied his ideas. Marom's paper, "Theory in Practice," also published in Educational Deliberations, is available here.
The Case for Vision
Fox articulated the idea of vision as it pertains to the Visions of Jewish Education Project over a period of decades.
The earliest articulation of the rationale for vision is his 1959 speech, "A Prolegomenon to a Philosophy of Jewish Education." The speech was also translated into Hebrew and published as פרולגומנון לפילוסופיה של חינוך יהודי in Kivunim Rabim: Kavanah Ahat (Jerusalem: School of Education of the Hebrew University and Ministry of Education, 1969). This paper argues that the means of general education cannot simply be grafted onto Jewish education, whose purposes are different. It posits Jewish culture and tradition as a storehouse of concepts and ideals for the determination of vision in Jewish education and offers specific topics and sources for this purpose.
In a second paper in 1973, "Towards a General Theory of Jewish Education," published in The Future of the Jewish Community in America, ed. David Sidorsky (New York: Basic Books), Fox makes the claim that the central problem in Jewish education is its blandness. He demonstrates this is various examples and proposes vision as an appropriate response.
A third argument was made by Fox, together with Israel Scheffler, in a paper written in dialogue with policy makers who asked whether Jewish education guarantees Jewish continuity. Fox and Scheffler argued that Jewish education without vision is far less likely to succeed. See "Jewish Education and Jewish Continuity: Prospects and Limitations," Monographs from the Mandel Foundation 1 (Jerusalem, 2000).
Fox on Translation
In addition to making the case that "vision makes a difference, and that differing visions will result in different kinds of Jewish education," Fox's essay "The Art of Translation" (see Visions of Jewish Education, pages 253 to 295) explores the question of "translating" theory into practice in education. "Vision cannot be separated from implementation," Fox argues (page 253).
Fox's ideas of translation were influenced by his study and collaboration with Joseph Schwab. The foundation of these ideas can be seen in Fox's article "The Vitality of Theory in Schwab's Conception of the Practical," published in Curriculum Inquiry 15:1 (1985). In considering Schwab's interest in the role that theory can play in education, Fox argues that "theory must be 'prepared' if it is to be used effectively for education" (page 64). This article serves as a bibliographical summary of Schwab's theory and a guide to his work.
In his address to the 12th World Congress of Jewish Studies, "From Theory to Practice in Jewish Education" (Jerusalem, July 30, 1997), Fox describes the methods, or processes, of translating theory to practice. In this speech Fox articulates the formal step or domain that lies between theory and practice, which he terms "theory of practice."
In addition, Fox wrote a number of articles on translation in his own practice. These include his demonstration of translation within one institution, Camp Ramah, in Vision at the Heart: Lessons from Camp Ramah on the Power of Ideas in Shaping Educational Institutions (Jerusalem: the Mandel Foundation, 1997), a short excerpt of which is included here.
Fox applied these ideas about translation to his work with various participants in the educational process. Fox's interest in the relationship between the work of scholars and the curriculum was influenced by Schwab; an example is found in Schwab's essay "From the Scholar to the Classroom" (published by the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education).
He has also developed the idea of content analysis based on his work with Leah Adar in history; see their ניתוח תכנית לימודים בהיסטוריה וביצועה בבתי-הספר (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1978).