Illustrating the Case

by Alex Pomson, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The publication, A Case Study of Jewish Day School Leadership: How Way Leads on to Way, first saw the light at the PEJE Assembly in 2010, where it held the attention of over a thousand people for some four hours. In this edition of Sustained! we return to the case study using a creative graphic approach. If you’ve previously read the case, you’ll find yourself surprised by how a skilled artist, Steve Sheinkin, has rendered its meaning a new, and how unexpected dimensions of the case come to life.

Case studies serve as a window and a mirror. In allowing us to see how others act we can think in new ways about our own decisions and practices. In speculating on why people act as they did, we are invited to imagine what we might have been done if we wore their shoes. By studying the case in conversation with others, we broaden our answer to the question: What else could have happened? Case-based learning is, in short, an opportunity to develop intellectual and emotional habits. Used often enough, these habits can account for the difference between success and failure in our work.

What is most exciting is that this new, “visual storytelling” modality expands the possible contexts in which the material might be used. In its graphic reincarnation the cartoon will make for an engaging exercise during a retreat or orientation, a warm up to any number of meetings, and an opportunity for you—our virtual audience—to engage in a powerful case study dialogue online. Last but not least, the cartoon also provides a wonderful opportunity to have fun and to think. That’s a serious value proposition.