Learning to be present: How hevruta learning can activate teachers’ relationships to self, other and text

Miriam Raider-Roth, Elie Holzer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Scopus citations


    This article focuses on the ways hevruta learning can contribute to teachers' capacity to be present to self, other, subject matter and the cultural context in which the learning occurred. Hevruta learning, when conceptualized for the purposes of teachers' professional development, brings to the fore both the interpretive and relational aspects of the learning process. The theoretical frameworks of philosophical hermeneutics and relational psychology infuse our design of hevruta learning as well as our analysis of teachers' unfolding awareness of presence. Drawing on qualitative data reflecting teachers' experiences in a week-long Summer Teachers Institute dedicated to text study and hevruta learning, this article describes the teachers' engagement with and exploration of each dimension of the relational triangle (i.e., teacher, student, and subject matter interactions; Hawkins, 2002). Data suggests that there was an activation or intensity in these dimensions, which was the result of the consistent and constant demands to engage with specific hevruta learning practices. This study's findings suggest that hevruta learning can be a powerful form of professional development because the intensity of experience with the relational dimensions of the learning process allows teachers to assume a new stance. The nature of this experience invited teachers to develop their capacity to be present to self, fellow learners and the text, thereby offering them the opportunity to consider how they would bring back and translate these lessons to their own classroom worlds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)216-239
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Jewish Education
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2009


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