Courses Synopses: Educational Policy

The series of courses in Division B addresses educational policy; there is an to understand and analyze various types of educational policies in Israel and in the world. Courses relate to Israeli society, historical perspectives on educational policy and the legal and economic aspects of these policies.

Three required courses – 6 semester credits

1B: Directions in critical education and educational policy: modern, post-modern and radical-critical perspectives

The course focuses on modern developments in humanistic education, in particular in the naturalistic, therapeutic and the radical-critical directions First we examine the revolution in education which began with Rousseau, who rejected the norms that educators in his day had set for children and relied on the authentic tendencies of children in their natural stages of development. Then we will see how two novel educational theories developed in the 20th century, different yet complimentary. The first was that of liberal education; the second was the tolerant direction of free, democratic education. Both had their philosophic and psychological adherents, the liberal seeing the full development of the individual’s capabilities as its goal; the more radical, with neo Marxist ideals, focused on freeing the pupils from the repressive influences of the establishment and creating a more just society.

2B.The many facets of Israeli society

Israeli society is recognized by sociologists and interested intellectuals as a society that displays the greatest disparity and disharmony among Western nations. It is definitely very heterogenic in all aspects: its people come from many different nations and ethnic groups with dramatic differences in religious attitudes and tolerances. There is great disparity between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. This disjunction, expresses itself in the political sphere as well. The essence of the course is to present this picture in greater detail and to try to find the common elements that bind together these disparate groups and at the same time to analyze those factors that are dividing the society. The main objective of the course, then, is to focus on the common bonds and ways to strengthen them and the stress factors and how to eliminate them.

3B. Globalization, privatization and their influence on the development of educational policy

The main objective of this course is to cast a critical eye on the processes of globalization in the economic and social spheres: processes of privatization brought about by the materialistic way of life in the developed world which had considerable impact on educational institutions and how they function. The course follows the historical development of globalization together with all the technological advances that were an integral part of this process. We will discuss the processes of weakening of the modern state and how technology, the media and globalization are reforming social institutions. We will view the disturbing phenomena of the rise of large immigrant groups in the mega-cities of the Western world, each ethnically different in every country and the problems they present to their governments. The course will also deal with the influence of these processes of globalization on education. The weakening of the modern state has brought with it the decline of state sponsored education and less state involvement in educational institutions and policy. The consequential entrance of private parties into educational institutions has introduced new concepts of marketing and financial responsibility. Education is now seen as a product that can be marketed internationally which makes for more student and teacher mobility.

Student may choose two courses from the following six (one of the courses must be either 6B or 7B) - 4 semester credits.

4B. School effectiveness: a seminar
Pre-requisites: methodology studies

The course deals with different conceptions of the role of school: the economic approach which accepts the fact that there are more capable and less capable pupils and places the most emphasis on developing the potential of the most capable pupils and the approach that seeks to establish a high average for the school as a whole with the emphasis on helping the weaker pupils to do their best. The course will analyze the relation between these two approaches in order to achieving maximum effectiveness in overall school results. During the course we will survey the research on the school effectiveness from the ’60 s till today, comparing research results and assessing their influence on the movement for school improvement. The seminar paper will focus on identifying the characteristics of effective schools in Israel and worldwide, basing the analysis data bases from international research results.

5B. Ideology, history and politics in Israeli education
Pre-requisites: The many facets of Israeli society

In this course the emphasis will be on the historical and sociological aspects of the Israeli educational system and how they influenced its structure and content. In particular we will deal with the various reforms that were initiated in the educational system, the factors and motives that induced them, and how they were implemented. The main themes of the course are: education before the establishment of the state of Israel, education in the first decade of the new nation, the “integration” reform of 1968, reform and privatization in the 80 s, and the teacher’s union reform and the Ministry of Education in the 21st century.

6B. Educational Policy Documents in Israel

The course will deal with educational policy from what can be found in official documents and policy papers. Recently such papers have become a popular subject for research and much can be learned from them about the practical side of educational strategy. This course will examine educational strategy in light of these published documents.

7B. National, cultural and economic factors in educational policy

In this course we examine the influence of the above factors in determining educational policy. We will discuss three case studies in detail: the educational reform of 1968, the program that allowed parents to select their children’s school and the Dovrat committee report. The concept, “educational policy” will be investigated in the light of these three initiatives, and the criticism they aroused at the time. We analyze the causes and the forces in play that caused these plans to be made and the resulting changes in education and the opposition to them as well. We deal with the political methods, public opinion and the use made of the media in these power struggles, where initiatives are made and sometimes undone. The above three examples will be analyzed in detail to show how educational policy can be initiated and introduced and how it can also be opposed and defeated.

8B. The rights of children: conventions, laws, regulations, and school climate

This course, which is managed as a workshop, is in two parts. The first part is academic in character and focuses on the basic principles of human rights and the rights of children. Among other things we examine the humanistic concept of man, the normative concepts of a moral society, the human rights that such a society upholds, and the special rights of children based on the nature of childhood.
The second part of the course concentrates on practical educational work. The subjects we treat in this part include the respect of children’s rights in the school, in all the areas of school activities. We examine the situations where there might occur conflict between children’s rights and the rights of the adults working in the school. We also deal with the ways children’s rights may be secured in the different areas of school or kindergarten activities like in the classroom or in other areas and including children of all ages. Certain activities have a workshop character, in which students take part in experimental programs in the school.

9B. Informal education and informal pedagogy: theory and practice

Informal education is often seen, in theory and practice, as secondary or supplementary to the main stream of formal education. Recent studies in the field have shown that the pedagogical concept of informal education has unique qualities that may well contribute to the learning and teaching methods used in formal education and may even act as an alternative.
The course enables students to learn up to date theory and practice in the field of informal education and to better understand how the barriers between informal and formal education are breaking down and what potential for educational development can result.