Educational theory and practice in Ashkenaz during the high Middle Ages
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This study of Ashkenazic education in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries examines the degree of communal involvement in the educational process as well as the economic and societal factors that affected this process. Where modern scholarship has addressed these issues, it has done so on the basis of sketchy evidence, resorting mostly to generalization.;The communities in Ashkenaz did not address educational needs in a systematic fashion. Unlike their Spanish counterparts, Ashkenazic scholars were enjoined from receiving compensation for study, nor were they granted tax exemptions. Teachers could open academies without receiving permission from local authorities. The academies played no formal role in communal government.;These developments reflect fundamental societal attitudes. Within Ashkenazic society, the progress of the average child in his studies was of relatively little concern. Moreover, with the relatively high concentration of scholars in medieval Ashkenaz, the communities did not feel need to offer incentives to scholars.;Another phenomenon that detached the educational process from the Ashkenazic communities was the shift in educational institutions that occurred around 1100. In pre-Crusade Ashkenaz, the academy was referred to as the yeshivah of its community, not as the school of a particular teacher. Twelfth-century, centers of Tosafist study became known as the schools individual scholars. A similar institutional shift occurred slightly earlier in medieval Christendom when the cathedral schools replaced the monasteries as the leading seats of learning. Just as this change was linked to new methodologies of Christian scholarship, the shift in Jewish academic circles was also accompanied by a fundamental change in the methodology of Talmudic study.;This study argues for a number of conclusions with regard to a variety of other controversial issues including the size of Tosafist academies, the selection of academy heads, the impact of worsening religious and social conditions in the thirteenth century on Talmudic study, and the nature of biblical studies in Tosafist circles. The final chapter describes the extensive educational critique formulated by the German Pietists. The critique concerns the appropriate goals and methodologies of Talmudic and biblical studies for the superior and average student.