Proposed Education Reform Gets a Failing Grade

Yuli Tamir's "reforms" are no better than Dovrat.

Batya Medad,

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I'm the last person who would claim that the Israeli education system is perfect, but Education Minister Yuli Tamir's "reforms" are no better than former Education Minister Limor Livnat's Dovrat Commission. The new "reforms" are similar to Dovrat in that they
They blame elderly teachers, like myself, for the problems.
blame elderly teachers, like myself, for the problems in the system, and they demand that teachers spend much more time in the schools for just a drop more salary.

Of the two Israeli teachers unions, one, the Histadrut, approved the agreement, but the Irgun Morim - Organization of Teachers - to which I belong, has rejected it.

In Israel, it's possible for teachers to work part-time and overtime. That helps prevent burn-out and enables those who can't, for various reasons, work full time to teach. Also, in smaller schools - and most schools aren't all that large by American standards - there aren't enough hours available for every teacher to teach his or her specialty full time. It also makes it possible to earn more by working more than what's considered a "full-time job."

Only non-teachers claim that teaching is "easy" and consider the "long vacations" inefficient and money-wasters.

The problems with Israeli education are caused by a faulty curriculum. For instance, similar to the trend in the United States and other "enlightened" places, language "fluency" has replaced "accuracy" as a goal, so that basic grammar is no longer emphasized. Not only have the students' skills in their "native tongue" deteriorated, but that has caused learning a second language to become more difficult. I'm supposed to teach Israeli high school boys English, but I find myself teaching general grammar and composition skills they should have had been taught in Hebrew.

This is ongoing, not a new phenomenon, and a generation of young teachers don't know Hebrew as well as they should. Demanding that they spend more hours at work won't correct this and pushing out the veteran teachers won't improve matters.

Modern children, used to quick flashes of facts and ideas, don't know how to get to the depth of texts and ideas nor how to concentrate on texts for long periods of time. They are visually superficial. Their "gist of it" is frequently inaccurate. This is seen in all of the subjects demanding language skills.

In mathematics, there are different problems. Most children aren't required to memorize basic arithmetic skills, like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. From the youngest age, they're told that it's perfectly fine to use an electric gadget, such as a calculator, cellphone or computer, to calculate the simplest things. Add to that the digital clock, which just gives numbers and doesn't help the child develop a lasting visual
The problems with Israeli education are caused by a faulty curriculum.
memory of half, quarter, third, etc., which they would have had by looking at an old-fashioned clock face.

Another problem is the prevalent use of workbooks, instead of copying material and questions from the board. The workbook is a "pre-digested" lesson for the teacher, which is less effort to prepare. By not preparing the lesson, it's harder for a teacher to explain the material to the student whose learning style, due to Mild Learning Disabilities or Giftedness, doesn't suit the workbook. Workbooks prevent the flexibility needed in all classrooms, whether heterogeneous or homogeneous. Not all students comprehend and process the same way.

Requiring teachers to teach longer hours and spend more time in the school building will not help the students. It will force some teachers out of the profession, but it won't attract any into it.

Education isn't a factory; it's more an art. And we teachers need the freedom and support to create the best possible lessons for our students.