judih's observations from kibbutz: As the 2006-7 School Year is about to begin in Israel    
 As the 2006-7 School Year is about to begin in Israel
picture2 Sep 2006 @ 11:33, by Judih Haggai

Though I've been back home for the past 2 1/2 weeks, I'm still de-jet lagging, and reacclimatizing to life in the role of teacher. We've had teacher seminars on Mediation, and daily planning and preparation sessions. I've been working on the latest topic for the English Learning Center: Making a Difference. I've been examining inventors, innovators, artists and scientists and their creations and discoveries and simplifying it all for autonomous learning for the students who come to the Center.

But facts are facts and there is a severe cognitive dissonance between wish and reality; ideal and dusty daily life.

Yossi Sarid [link] in today's Ha'aretz [link], has put it brilliantly. I can't wait to see how school goes this year.

A bad year ahead for education

By Yossi Sarid

The 2006-2007 school year, beginning Sunday, will be a bad year. The security establishment is now demanding more than NIS 20 billion for its rehabilitation, a sum equivalent to the entire education budget. One should note that this is a voracious addition, because frenzied times devour and engulf, leaving nothing behind. For the sake of strengthening security, perhaps we should relinquish one school year? All the students will get passing grades, satisfying the god Molech, to whom idol-worshipers used to sacrifice children by fire.

The dry bones of the education system will supply neither the material nor the spiritual. There is no more inferior or damaging education than that which has been cast into abandoned territory, between those with high standards and those who live up to them. And who are those with high standards, the seekers of our age, if not the educators, both in the classroom and outside of it? They are led by the leaders of the era, toward whom all eyes are raised - raised and downcast.

As a teacher, on occasion, I wonder what the teachers of Israel will discuss with their pupils this year in civics class and during the "homeroom teacher's hour," when there is a focus on current events and social issues. One of the concepts raised by many is that of "personal responsibility" - or, alternatively, "personal example." It is important to bequeath to our students the recognition that they are responsible for all their actions and failures, and do not have the right to exempt themselves from their responsibility by off-loading it on others.
How exactly will this issue be dealt with, when, in the real world of life and death, there's no one up there who recognizes his responsibility? How will we demand from our students the diametric opposite of what the great and the good - the great and the bad, actually - demand from themselves? When the spirit infuses the educator and he or she speaks on a lofty level, there will be a cheeky student - a boy named Lior or a girl called Noah - who will ask: "Teacher, why then doesn't the prime minister agree with these nice things you are telling us here?"

Another key topic that frequently comes up in school is "good government" or "integrity in government," and there appears to be no dispute over this issue. Maybe a student named Liran, considered a strange boy, will get up and ask: "Teacher, why then are so many government ministers and Knesset members under suspicion and being investigated and tried?" Or perhaps it will be Moran who asks about the prime minister, who has in his new home a rare collection of certificates of good behavior issued by the police or by the courts. And the poor teacher will search hard for a response.

"Respecting the law" - that's another important subject in the classroom. It's no secret that hundreds of schools in Israel are themselves criminals due to a lack of choice - since instead of charging parents an average of NIS 1,000, they charge twice as much as they are allowed, and sometimes even 10 times as much. When the state disappears, Mom and Dad are forced to stand in its stead. Girls and boys are not stupid, and they understand what is happening full well: There is no connection between the rules and the actions; the gap is wide and will not be bridged with nice words.

A sensational story landed on an inside page this week: The Haaretz education reporter published a first interview with the new chairwoman of the Education Ministry's Pedagogic Secretariat, Prof. Anat Zohar. She has already announced an innovation she plans to make: teaching students how to think, and reducing the amount of material they are required to learn. The conclusions of the Dovrat Commission's report on educational reforms have paled into insignificance. The originality and daring of the chief pedagogue have erased all that has been proposed until now.

Finally, after 100 years of Zionism and 60 years of sovereignty, our girls and boys will begin to think, and that is certainly a revolution. Zohar's plan can even be described as a subversive one: If our students think more deeply, the questions of Lior and Noah and Liran and Moran will only become more pointed, razor-sharp - and where are our leaders going?

The Education Ministry needs to think again before calamity sets in, before the education establishment is compelled to require the study of additional subjects like "equality before the law," "social solidarity," "equal opportunity," "modest behavior," "truth," and similar concepts, which are too heavenly to be earthly.

The teachers of Israel are analogous to the soldiers who participated in the war in Lebanon, and they are its heroes. Not the ministers and not the generals, but the simple soldiers and commanders in the field are the ones who save the situation. The teachers, unwilling heroes, cope on their own, against all odds - and against most of the leaders.

Link to article:[link]

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