Israel, the home for so many of the hi-tech innovations. One might imagine children are breastfed in front of the PC, or do their potty training while learning to program. They probably play with semiconductors at the nursery school and master all forms of online communications by the age of 6…
Isn’t it so?
Well, sadly, no. My children go to school with more than 650 other students, ages 6-14. The school has only 24 PCs, no wireless of course and no more than 2 academic hours per week for basic computer skills (sometimes only half of it), starting at the third grade.
This school, which hosts the city’s gifted children education program, uploaded a web site just last week. One which, to be fair, I planned and worked on for an incredibly long time and with unusual patience.
I just ran out of patience last night.
Got home, read this incredible post by Connie Weber and wanted to cry.
It is possible to blame the national priority in Israel, the cuts in education budgets. Some would blame the teachers’ workers organizations. There are the local governments who are to blame for municipal budgets. But really, drilling down, you are facing the school’s priority and the single teacher’s ambition.
I honestly believe that most teachers chose this profession out of an urge to teach, lead, instill knowledge and positively affect younger generations. I try to dismiss common convention that most teachers in Israel chose this job either because they had no other choice or for simple convenience.
And that’s where last night’s meeting comes in.
After spending 18 months on the school’s web site project, and following its announcement and publishing of the URL last Friday, I had to face the fact that out of about 55 teachers, I could hope for no more than 10 that will agree to learn how to use the web site’s content management system.
Due to the school’s assumption that most of the teachers won’t be “in”, the work with the group of 40 students who have already learned the skills of using the system, is to be put on hold, or rather, “we cannot advance at this pace, this has to be slowed down to the school’s pace”.
How can you explain to a school, which launched its web site on March 2008, that this is not an acceptable pace in the current online world?
Our world is evolving so quickly that today’s teachers are preparing their current pupils to professions, which do not yet exist nor could we imagine they will exist. The children today are so knowledgeable and connected, a school that doesn’t flow with the current will remain a dry isolated island that does not communicate with its environment – meaning the kids, and their parents, most of which are online to some degree, sometimes a very high degree. Such a schooling system cannot serve a population that strives to learn, innovate and lead. It can only drive ambition and performance down.
Thinking of the school’s site I am sharing Connie Weber’s vision relating to the community building together its house. I envy the quality of learning she has achieved through a simple social networking site she has established with 4-5 graders. I just wonder how is it, that in Israel, the home of ICQ, Disk-On-Key, Windows XP, Intel inside, SMS, voice mail, Firewall and so many other innovations, the school teachers can be so detached from, well not just hi-tech as a whole, but from the basis, the web.