New Experimental Jewish History Course

Hello Jewish History fans–

Here’s a new project you might find interesting. A few months ago I came across the work of Ken Bain (What the Best College Teachers Do), which inspired me to take a dramatic new look at the way I’ve been teaching a bread-and-butter course for a long time: History of the Jewish People I, your basic undergraduate survey course, covering Jewish history from the Mishnah to the Spanish Expulsion. Professor Bain emphasizes the value of the journey of discovery in learning, and with that in mind and a bunch of behavioral economics theory, I’ve completely rethought the course. I’m really excited about how undergraduate students will appreciate it.

At the same time, I’d like to make a simpler version of the course available to my students on the web. Please stick around, as I hope to upload some really interesting stuff over the next few weeks and into the next academic year! Please visit this page to see the full syllabus as I’ve presented it to undergraduates, and here’s the introductory video.

Please let me know your thoughts!



2 thoughts on “New Experimental Jewish History Course

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  1. Dear Dr. Abramson,Wow!  This course looks fabulous!!We have corresponded briefly before, but I should re-introduce myself:  I am a graduate student in the EdD program (Jewish Leadership) at Gratz College.  I am at the beginning stages (Concept Paper) of researching/writing my dissertation which will be on teachers’ perceptions of using the “Jewish Court of All Time” (“JCAT”) to teach Jewish history in middle school (day school).  You may be aware of the “game” inasmuch as it is administered through JTS (Dr. Meredith Katz) and is supported in part by PRIZMAH (formerly RAVSAK).  Here is a good overview article: any event, I have a huge general interest in using games to teach history.  In the field of Jewish history (my passion), there are precious few.  Your new course has much of the profile of a “game,” and I would love an opportunity to be a silent observer, if that is at all possible.  The narrow focus of my dissertation will remain JCAT, but I think that, as a potential scholar in the field of Jewish games for Jewish history (to coin a field), observing how students interact with the game “platform” would inform my work.  I would certainly be willing to provide any assistance to you if you feel that would be a reasonable trade-off.I hope you will consider my request and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  I would be happy to send you a copy of my Hebrew College master’s thesis, which presents a more generalized overview of the field, in order to establish my credentials and bona fides.  Certainly, you are also welcome to speak with my graduate advisor if you feel that is necessary.  (Does being an alum of your neighbor YOF get me any additional bonus points?)I look forward to your response and wish you hatzlacha with the course!Best regards,Sara

    1. Hello Sara! It seems like you know a lot more about this than I do, that’s for sure. I would be very happy to assist you in your research, and I have a couple ideas. Why don’t you PM me via email to talk further? HMA

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