Planning for Jewish education in the twenty-first century
toward a new praxis
Planning is typically seen as an ordered rational process for guiding change toward desired ends. However, Jewish education does not lend itself well to this type of rational planning. The nature of the educational system (which has been described as an "organized anarchy"), the prominence of non-rational human, political, and symbolic forces at work, and the types of adaptive challenges that Jewish education presents to planners all argue for the need for a different planning paradigm. Complex adaptive systems theory provides the conceptual framework for such an alternative. This theory sees unpredictable development and emergent organization as the norm for complex systems and regards learning as the key to successful adaptation in human systems. The model of planning that grows out of this conceptual framework is what we call "praxis planning"—planning that is embedded in action and is both improvisational and highly reflective. The work of researchers like Fullan and Westley, Zimmerman, and Patton, as well as the experience of those involved in the work of congregational-educational change over the past decade and a half, help us to understand the major features of this type of planning that emphasizes subtle 'steering" rather than imposing change and why it is more effective than conventional rational planning in leading us to the ends we seek.
Woocher, J. S. (2011)., Planning for Jewish education in the twenty-first century: toward a new praxis, in H. Miller, L. Grant & A. Pomson (eds.), International handbook of Jewish education, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 247-265.
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