We don’t need no EDUCATION!September 18th, 2011 by Artemis
At least not the type of education being taught in Israeli schools today…
Israel has an antiquated educational system which lacks any form of comprehensive structure. Teachers are underpaid, ill-prepared or otherwise totally incompetent and the curricula is categorically defective. To make matters worse, the band of clowns running this circus, (Ministry of Education), frequently changes its leadership leaving very little hope for meaningful reforms. Despite all of this, billions of shekels are senselessly wasted, year after year, on an archaic system which is failing Israeli youth and will eventually have to a disastrous effect on the future of its society and ultimately on the economy.
In all fairness, I do believe that most teachers in Israel have a sincere desire to positively contribute to the enrichment of young minds but they are quickly disillusioned when faced with an untamable lot of rowdy kids that have been left to their vices for far too long.
An unruly bunch, combined with limited resources, overcrowding, a mediocre curricula and an anachronistic Ministry of Education subsequently forces teachers with even the best intentions to conform to an unhealthy, irrational norm. The devastating effects are evident in Israel scholastic achievements which are among the lowest in the industrialized world.
Education was, ‘once upon a time’ a cherished value in every Jewish household. It was the torch that lit the path to freedom and perhaps the principle reason why this nation has produced dozens of Nobel Prize winners throughout history. Despite the fact that Israel dedicates 10% of its GDP to education, Israeli education ranks at the bottom of the list among Western nations.
Israeli youth has the potential of being electrified by the wonders of knowledge but here we have a system which is incapable of igniting so much as a spark in their minds. Informed parents who have carried on those well-engrained values of educational feel they have no choice but to spend a small fortune on private tutors. Private tutoring is rampant. Not only do teachers earn extra money on the side to compensate for their poor salaries, school faculty encourages parents to take on the extra expense as a sort of guarantee for academic success. Private tutors charge anywhere from $30-60 an hour leaving children of families in lower socio-economic levels far, far behind, eating the dust. It is therefore fair to say: the richer the family, the better test scores.
If I ran the educational system I would implement these ten ground-breaking steps, (in no particular order):
#1) Do away with all school books – Aside from breaking their backs with the weight of schlepping a ton of books to school every day, kid’s today loath and despise the very feel of paper. Let’s face it, they are better equipped to handle electronic devices than they are books and pencils. All students should be given electronic devices, such as ipads or even small laptops which could be easily monitored by parents and educators alike. This is not a draconian idea, it is actually based on an obvious need for this new generation to connect and interact with one another in a way which is most practical and comfortable for them. All homework, study material and so forth should be done electronically on a closed circuit network. Not only would we save a whole lot of trees, parents would save a fortune on books! For those of you that don’t know, books in Israel are not provided by the government. Parents must buy books for their children at the beginning of the school year. The average cost for books ranges anywhere from 200-500 dollar annually, depending on the students age.
#2) Open up the bloody system. Some kids are good at Science while others prefer Language or History. It’s impossible to impose one strict curriculum on children with a vast range of capacities. By giving students the freedom to choose ‘elective’ classes, we should see better test scores. The goal in life is to find a job doing what you love most and I strongly believe this idea should be adopted worldwide. Furthermore, mandatory courses, such as reading , writing and arithmetic should be taught on a sliding scale so children with a lower learning capacity would be encouraged to excel to their own next level without feeling as if they are less than others in the class. Testing should be done to determine their level and never revealed to anyone other than the student and parent.
#3) Longer weekends. Israeli students learn from Sunday to Friday, some students are in school up to 10 hours a day learning useless information which they will never actually need. On top of this, they are given a mountain of homework to deal with on a daily basis (more useless information). By shortening the weekday, children have the opportunity to recoup their energy and are given more time to interact with their families. This should be coupled with a 5 day work week for parents, without the pay cut.
#4) More physical education. Teaching kids about the miracle of this machine we call a body would encourage them to use it more often. Physical education would include teaching them about nutrition and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Teaching youth to prepare healthy meals should be an option as well, since so many of them return to empty homes and are forced to eat processed foods. Teaching them to prepare simple, healthy meals which they enjoy will instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
#5) Re-educate the educators . Most teachers are clearly out of touch with today’s youth. By giving educators modern tools and re-teaching them on how to be better teachers in this brave new world, they would effectively contribute to the production of brighter minds.
#6) Less homework. Kids hate homework. I hated it, you hated it. After 10 hours of school, the last thing kids need is more work. By limiting kids to a structured 3 day homework system, kids would have more time to develop new ideas and establish a set rhythm. It would also allow parents, who work long hours, to actively participate without feeling overwhelmed.
#7) More Creativity. Be it through music, theater, dance, art or any other form of creative self expression, creativity should be strongly encouraged and adopted as part of the basic curriculum. Kids have a lot trapped inside, getting those emotions out in the open is a crucial step towards developing healthy, stable minds. Creativity helps kids “get it all out of their system”, and by doing so, parents and teachers alike will effectively open up a new line of communication. By understanding more about who they are, adults will all be better equipped to guide them towards a higher understanding of the world around them. These classes could be provided as an after school activity and preferably funded by private organizations.
#8) Teacher and Student Bonuses. Teachers as well as students should be rewarded for their dedication and the money should not come from tax payers, but rather from so called Tycoons. An annual donation of a few million dollars from the top 5 richest families in Israel would suffice The annual fund raiser would be an extravagant event where each tycoon family competes to top one another’s donation. What could be better than that? Rewards for students will come in the form of trust funds which will be used to pay for their higher education. Rewards for teachers will come as non-taxable funds for those who produce highest ranking students.
#9) Separation of Religion and State. Most Israelis are proud of their Jewish heritage but they don’t want to have it shoved down their throats. Surely it is important for Jews to learn our own history, however, there should be a limit on the number of hours religion is taught in schools but in any case, religion should be a choice.
#10) Tolerance and Respect. Last on the list, but certainly NOT least. One of the greatest problems faced by teachers today is student abuse. Students have no sense of respect these days, they are clearly out of control. Students should be taught values of respect and tolerance from a very early age. Although with all of the above steps in place, I believe tolerance and respect would flourish naturally. Students should be forced to walk a strict, fine line where things like bullying, racism, disrespect and teacher abuse is simply not tolerated. On top of this, parents should be held accountable for their children’s misbehaviour since good manners begin at home.