IST663 Module 4: The Well Marbled Life

My time examining the words of Lee Shulman is at an end. It’s been very interesting delving into the work of a person with such a long and diverse career. The focus of this entry is a video series called Inside the Academy, via Arizona State University. There are a couple of hours worth of fascinating footage of an interview with Lee Shulman himself that gives a fascinating peek into the man behind his work. My favorite portion of the interview was when Shulman talks about pastrami as a metaphor for a good life. He says

In a really good pastrami, the lean and the fat are like they are in a really prime steak — they’re marbled…if there are aspects of your life, your values, your dispositions, your commitments, the way you think, the way you feel, what you believe, they shouldn’t be cocooned or siloed or layered, but rather the different parts ought to be marbled  so that your values really do animate and inform your scholarship…without permitting marbling to become corruption and without permitting the mixture to become a kind of mess. And I thought a really good piece of pastrami captures all those values nicely [my transcription].

One aspect of Shulman’s work that I have not yet touched upon is his interest in religious education, which he describes in the same portion of the interview. As a product of Jewish day schools himself, Shulman’s interest is personal, but it is also very academic. He would like to see a comparative study in the field of religious education. He says, “more students, I am told, are educated across the world in religious schools than in secular schools” [my transcription], but religious education is often ignored by those who develop secular education scholarship because of the volatility of the subject. Shulman envisions a world in which education and religious education can come together in scholarship in a climate of respect. He points out that there is a lot to be learned from the lessons of mindfulness and morality that is a feature of religious education, but that is less strongly examined in secular education.

I think this is really interesting, and very applicable. As anti-bullying campaigns become standard in what seems like every secular school, and with students in dire need of knowing how to conduct themselves safely and respectfully in online environments, a discussion of morals and values seems imminent, if not long overdue.

You can watch the segment of the interview I quoted here:

Do visit the website for Inside the Academy featuring Lee Shulman. He is an eloquent speaker with a lot to say.

Cover photo via.


2 responses to “IST663 Module 4: The Well Marbled Life

  1. Ruth, I really like what you’re saying about Shulman’s ideas of religious education. At first I was a bit worried about where your post was going to go! Then you mentioned teachings on morality/ethics/etc. and that made a lot of sense to me. Schools claim to be preparing students for college and careers (including those that don’t require a college education). But the more I observe, the more I’m seeing how to teach students to take tests. And I’m sorry, but where will that land our students? Children don’t just need reading and writing skills, or skills in areas of technology — they need to know how to be responsible members of their communities. I think you and Shulman are so right. I loved this post, Ruth. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Emmy. I can see I was a little unclear in my explanation also. Shulman wants to see a DISCOURSE between secular an religious education. He wants t see them come together in scholarship, not necessarily in practice. I see it sort of as an extension of his notion of pedagogical expertise being a body of scholarship.

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