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Nature or nurture?

Nature or nurture?

JPR's "Community Futures" programme reconvened for the first time after the summer, with Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum of the London School of Jewish Studies facilitating a discussion about nature and nurture.

Zarum brought examples from the growing pool of scientific evidence that demonstrates that our genes have a significant influence on many of the underlying talents and temperaments we hold - notably how open we are to experience, how conscientious we are, how extrovert or introvert we are, how antagonistic or agreeable we are, and our levels of neuroticism. He also explored the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, and how habitual practice can help to rewire our brains, thereby enabling us to develop new patterns of behaviour. And he brought an extrordinary twelfth century text from the Rambam, which demonstrated how all of these issues had formed part of Jewish thought nine hundred years ago.

The group explored together what the new discoveries in the natural sciences might mean for education in general, and for Jewish education in particular. Certainly, as we grapple with them, our understanding of what constitutes 'good' or 'bad' education - as well as 'effective' or ineffectual' education - is being challenged in all sorts of ways.

Nature or nurture? - 17 Oct 2013