|Further Reading on Marom's Principles of Vision Coaching
Marom's chapter in Visions of Jewish Education, "Before the Gates of the School: An Experiment in Developing Educational Vision from Practice" (pages 296 to 331) describes his work as an on-site vision facilitator, participating in the development of a school's educational vision.
|Audio Excerpts Now Online|
The May 2006 meeting of the Visions seminar for graduates of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows and the Mandel Teacher Educator Initiative (MTEI) included a conversation with Marom about his work with the Magnes School. His experiences as a vision consultant at the school are considered as a model for the kinds of work that graduates will undertake in their institutions (running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes). Follow the links to listen to the audio files: part one; part two; part three; part four.
The idea of an on-site vision facilitator was suggested by Seymour Fox and inspired by the thought of Joseph Schwab on "the on-site curriculum specialist."
His work with the Magnes School was based on several principles. Below, we offer resources for additional reading on each of these guiding points.
Decoding the Implicit Vision
This principle drew on Seymour Fox's idea of "content analysis," which is an investigation of an institution's culture, policy, curriculum and pedagogy as a way of uncovering its implicit vision (see Visions of Jewish Education, pages 303-305). Two studies conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem develop the idea of content analysis: Leah Adar and Seymour Fox, ניתוח תכנית לימודים בהיסטוריה וביצועה בבתי-הספר (An Analysis of the Content and Use of a History Curriculum) (Jerusalem: Hebrew University School of Education, 1978).
Marom expands on the idea of content analysis in the full report of his experience at the Magnes school. Click here for an excerpt on Marom's definition of content analysis. In this excerpt Marom also describes what content analysis is not. While, for example, content analysis is not identical to the portraiture approach of Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's The Good High School, readers are referred to her discussion of this methodology in the introduction to The Art and Science of Portraiture, which Lawrence-Lightfoot co-wrote with Jessica Hoffmann Davis (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997). The chapter "A View of the Whole" is available here.
Similarly, Marom distinguishes content analysis from the work of anthropologist Samuel Heilman on Jewish supplementary education. See "Inside the Jewish School," from What We Know About Jewish Education, ed. Stuart Kelman (Los Angeles: Tora Aura, 1992).
He cites Israel Scheffer's account of his education, Teachers of My Youth (Dordecht: Kluwer, 1995), as providing several descriptions of teaching that point to larger philosophical concepts. Three such excerpts, as well as the final chapter of the book, are presented here.
A second principle, and a turning point in Marom's discussion of his work at Magnes, was to establish readiness, which he defines as a social consensus around the aims of education at the deepest level (see Visions of Jewish Education, pages 307-308).
Several sources influenced the development of this principle. He cites as an influence Seymour Sarason's The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change, a work that prompted the question, "who owns the school?" The second chapter, "The School and the Outsider" is available here.
The danger of a school that is not defined by shared vision becoming a cacophony is addressed in Lawrence Cremin's "The Cacophony of Teaching" from Popular Education and Its Discontents (New York: Harper and Row, 1990).
Patricia Graham's "Schools: Cacophony about Practice, Silence about Purpose" in Daedalus 113:4 (1984) similarly describes how the strong feeling of public ownership of schools and the diminished role of educators in "formulating what education ought to do" have resulted in an abundance of critiques about education but few articulations of educational ideals. "Discussion about either curriculum or pedagogy is vacuous," Graham argues, "unless we have some agreement about why we educate. Only then can we have some basis for decision about what the curriculum ought to be and how it should be taught to children. Therefore, we must break the silence about our rationale for education" (page 49).
In "Before the Gates of the School," Marom describes a moment in his work at Magnes in which the principle of establishing readiness depended upon helping constituents of the school to identify with one another within the complex tradition of American Jewish life (see Visions of Jewish Education, pages 309 to 314). He turns to Philip Roth's remarks about inheriting "a psychology without a content" from his Jewish education. Roth has addressed some of these ideas in his fiction as well, particularly in the short story "The Conversion of the Jews."
Another kind of "cacophony," the inability in American education to rule out any educational goal, which creates a kind of "intellectual bankruptcy," is considered in an excerpt from The Shopping Mall High School: Winners and Losers in the Educational Marketplace by David Cohen, Eleanor Farrar, and Arthur Powell (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985).
The "Introduction" to Werner Jaeger's Paideia: the Ideals of Greek Culture contributed to this discussion the idea of a school as the act of a community that wishes to preserve and transmit its values and character to the next generation.
Another perspective is offered by sociological research that shows how the school is an institution that does not stand alone but is related to others, such as family and community. "The simultaneous influence on children of schools, of families, and of communities is undeniable, but too often the connections across contexts are ignored in theory, in research, in policy, and in practice," according to Joyce Epstein and Mavis Sanders (page 286). Their article, "Connecting Home, School, and Community," published in the Handbook of the Sociology of Education, ed. Maureen Hallinan (New York: Kluwer, 2000), describes the results of studies showing how "the most effective families, schools, and communities had shared goals and a common mission concerning children's learning and development" (page 287).
Vision as a Framework for Everyday Practice
Marom's work at Magnes took place via everyday conversations about practice, through which he aimed to "expose the fact that something was always at stake in choosing a particular goal" (see Visions of Jewish Education, pages 314-321). Marom has explored some of these methods and practices in the career of Seymour Fox. An excerpt from his essay, "Theory in Practice," is available here.
In "Before the Gates of the School," Marom shares the example of Magnes' exploration of its tefillah curriculum as an example of his "rolling content analysis" in which he was able to make observations about the school's underlying vision by attending to its deliberations and challenges regarding this element of the school's life (see Visions of Jewish Education, pages 319-321). One of the texts on prayer that influences Marom's thinking in this aspect of his work was Moshe Greenberg's Biblical Prose Prayer (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), an excerpt of which is available here.
Marom takes as a second example the "integrated project" required of all Magnes students. A description of this project, and its use as a framework for Marom's rolling content analysis, is available here from Marom's full report on Magnes. In the vignette about the integrated project, Marom refers to the interest of Magnes' principal in Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.
The Visions of Education Project in Israel
Marom's doctorate on Ben-Zion Dinur, the Israeli historian and Minister of Education, summarized Dinur's vision of Israeli education. An English abstract of the study, "The Educational Development, Thought and Practice of Ben-Zion Dinur," is available here.
Marom's work on vision facilitation in schools continues in three educational institutions in Israel, along the lines explored at the Magnes School. In these projects his work is extended to questions of vision in public education. A full report on this work will be available in the future through The Project in Israel website.