A.Kazarnovsky

THREE GAPS

(Notes about the situation in Israel Education. Abstract)

I would dream to live till the time
when we are visited for the wisdom

Arie Levin

1. The Notes are devoted to the Concept of New Education. The aim of the Notes is not "to give recipe" but rather to draw public attention to the situation in our education, which requires radical changes, and to set some perspective directions of public discussion and actions in order to discover, define and solve the problems of education.

2. We act and live in the same way as we think. If one needs to understand and change something in the life, he should look intently at the way ht thinks. Therefore the reflection of existing forms of thought, which reproduce today's pedagogy, and their analysis are of interest, on the other hand, any attempts to find new forms of thinking as well as spiritual basis, required for forming new teaching practice, are also of great importance.

3. Three main subject of discussion and their relationship are significant for building a new Education Concept. They are: contemporary socio-cultural situation, the place of Education in it and the fortune of a man.

4. It is well known that the fortune of the nation to-morrow depends on the system of education to-day. It is true for all the countries and times. Especially now, when globalization of economy, information currents, cultural and religion impacts as will as the globalization of the capital in all its possible forms has become a reality. Globalization intensifies the eternal problem of understanding the limits of possible and reasonable actions or the problem of the limits which should not be overstepped in order to avoid universal collapse. Now this problem appears as the requirement to save traditional forms of life alongside with the high rates of the development. From here - growth of demand not only and not it is so much on the experts in those or other subject domains of knowledge, not it is so much on of "the people knowing" (for to know it is possible only something that is existing or was), how many on of "the people understanding", capable to create new representations, ideas, cultural forms of an idea and action, which are necessary for coexistence and mutual understanding in the dynamical and uncertain world. Accordingly, the requirements to the systems of education are also changing.

5. We have been talking about educational reform a few last years. Even though the wave of speeches and publications usually rises only before next elections, the number of interesting publications full of real concern for the Reform future is gradually increasing. Besides, alternative educational programs are spontaneously coming into being all other the country, particularly among the emigrants. It means that we have accepted the challenge and are now trying to respond. The challenge may come from the Culture or from the History. Depending on what we consider the sours of the challenge, we will get different types of the Reform discussion, and, thus, different reforms:

 

Challenge of Culture

Challenge of History

Mode of thinking Regular thinking Thinking by "gaps", engineering comprehension
Understanding of the situation Education loses norms and patterns, represented in Culture Education has stopped responding to the social processes and world tendencies; it does not prepare people to solving vital problems
Situation Analyses Directions Define how much we have lagged behind Comprehend and analyze structurally the social system and its dynamic. Focus on the social processes and world tendencies and not on cultural treasures and patterns.
Problems None The content and ways of reforming are determined not by the modern social situation (as according to culture), but by the future desired situation. Between these situations there are no comprehension structures, no actions - nothing - a gap. Therefore, it is impossible to move from the first situation to the second one. In it a problem consists.
Possible solution and action Intensification of the current activity, administrative reconstructions and rearrangements, political battles for the budget Development and realization of the education new content by carrying out analytical, research, design and pilot works whose structures are able to fill in the gap.

What to prefer, Culture or History, in is a matter of selfdefining in the socio-cultural situation. Those who share the first point of view do not require a new concept. Others need it as a basis for transfer to a new kind of education and as a guide that points the transfer direction.

6. Till now, the comprehension of the situation and all the actions connected occur in the frame of Culture. The author believes that such an approach has led our education to a deadlock, that this approach is the reason why actually all "the characters participating in education are not pleased with the study results. It is also the reason why Israel education is incompetitive on the world market and the cause of increasing emigration and sharpening of internal conflicts. None of the traditional measures, such as improvement in skill of the available teachers, spreading so called "advanced experience", optimization of learning subjects structure, improvement teaching methods and etc., will not change the situation in main. Therefore, it is worth transferring the discussion into the frames of History trying to create New Education Concept.

 

7. The first step is the analyses of the situation in our education. Since the New Education is thought as a type of practical activity, the analyses should be directed practically, carried out in the space of special conceptions, enabling one to express the essence of the matter, and not of the space of phenomena. Therefore, the distinction between system processes is introduced: "reproduction" and "functioning", on the one hand, and "development" on the other hand; the distinction between the type of processes: "natural" and "artificial"; distinction between notions: "improvement in skill", "training", "education", "up-bringing". "New Education" notion, its relation to the social system and "natural development" concept (officially adopted in Israel education) are discussed as opposed to "human resources concept/ it is shown how such oppositions as "religious education" - "secular education", "upbringing of individualist" - " upbringing of collectivist", etc. - are removed in the frame of the later concept.

Five type of knowledge, required for any practical activity, are discussed - Constructive-Technical, Practical-Methodical, Humanitarian, Scientifical and Methodological ("what forms of thought is the activity presented in and what forms does it exist in?). In order to form practical knowledge (the only knowledge you need in the life), it should be constructed of the given types so, that it would help (1)distinguish and differentiate, (2)imagine and create objects, (3)build and arrange individual and collective actions, and also (4)combine the three mentioned functions of practical knowledge in a single form, that is to be the knowledge of the knowledge form itself as a system (in order to correct it according to the different cases in life). Due to these requirements, traditional pedagogical aim of forming knowledges, abilities and skills also acquires absolutely different content.

 

8. The analyses performed with the help of the above-mentioned conceptional means enable to make such conclusions:

8.1. The aim our systems of the governmental schools as well as the universities is training, but not education, they train one of social function of a person, but not the person himself. "Modern education" is thought only as a fast performance of the labour market orders, multiplication of something that already exists. "Human resources" concept works only in a few private institutions for well off people, and that fact only deepens social polarity and destabilizes the society.

Let us define the first gap: between the peculiarities (considered as requirements) of the contemporary socio-cultural situation and the private nature of the response to them.

8.2 Our systems of education are aimed at scientific (subject) knowledge. At school and university students are told "why", explained what is going on in the world by the action of different regularities. In many cases we are simply informed of some date without any correlation with practical activities. Constructive-Technical knowledge is lying somewhere in the background, we also lack Practical-Methodical and Humanitarian knowledges, arbitrary setting spheres of problems, aims, productions and realization, without which any activity either can not be completed, or becomes senseless. What about methodological knowledge... They are required to determine, set and solve the problems of activity development and are transferred (generated, to be more exact, as they are situational) also in process development. Who has watched the development in our school?

Let us state the second gap - between the fact that we have to perform an integrated activity in our life and the partial knowledge of the activity, offered by the system of education nowadays. "Activity", "practice", "development" - all these are not its treasures, it is aimed at "old-fashioned" ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, those "eternal cultural treasures".

8.3. The priority of training to education is the result of absence of modern ideas of the development (economical, social and other). School (from primary to high) is seemed to be a kind of machine, which processes human material according to the preset algorithms for its further applications. Hence, the main aim is certificate of Education (Bagrut), that is formal progress and formal conditions of the future graduate of the content. Until now there exist a naiv belief in our school, that knowledge is "handed in" to the student as a sheet of paper or a sandwich. Didactics, based on this belief does not give good results, and failures are usually attributed to the student's incapability, his unwillingness to study, his dullness. But is a matter of fact, as it is world-know (except for Israel), knowledge is generated by the student himself through the reflection of his own experience and comprehension. And then the teacher's role in school is not to be the "mouthpiece" of knowledge, but to plan (curriculum), arrange and carry out the most impotent of coping with the knowledge (not learning).

Fundamental methodical base of our school is psychological theory of education, developed in XIX Century and has been outdated long ago, but is surprisingly coexisting with formal-aim approach. It regards "natural" (physiological, psychological) "development" of a child as a paramount importance (inverted commas are used because there is no natural development, it usually requires certain intellectual efforts, and thus can be referred to the field of "artificial"), and education is regarded as something of minor importance, something that should improve, facet this gift of Nature or God, give it civilized look and add lustre. As a result, we have pseudoscientific (that is used to be, but now removed by modern pedagogy) division into periods of the child's "development", due to which we simply delay his real development (Maugly effect). There is some confusion of such notions as "education", "training", "upbringing" and due to it the techniques based on them are inadequate. There is also exaggeration of the significance of psychological tests (concerning the tests as means of teaching different methods of problem solution, and not only as testing means of mastering the methods - so called "coaching"). This is the source of non-systematic, incomplete and impractical character of school knowledge. And that is why school does not concern about upbringing in its modern sense. It is not interested in creating methodological, methodical and organization conditions, either. And it is quite understandable, as if something "natural" is reproduce, that is, something that exists, there won't be any interest for something "artificial", something that is not available, but may or mast be. The system makes itself "natural".

There is the third gap - between the necessary conditions for constructing up-to-date educational and upbringing activity, its existence in the system itself and the real comprehension of these conditions by those who work in it.

 

9. In the light of these gaps it is possible to analyse other phenomena in our education.

For instance, it is possible to see that a lot of proposals to "save" education, such as to make it more mathematical, more physical or more spiritual have failed. Never mind how deep we master scientific or spiritual knowledge (it is also necessary), graduating from dozen of MOFETs, universities and yeshivas, we will not get any skill to prepare with the activity. Therefore, introduction of a single standard for the systems of school education in the country without revising fundamentally its content looks very advanced but lies aside from the main educational problems. The same situation is with the idea of free education. Its realization although it seems democratic and social significance will lead to multiplication of the number of people with so called "average education" and make the delay of our education from life constant.

Our hopes for total computerization in school, as panacea, are also in vain - it cannot fill in the gaps. It can perform the function of a today's teacher, to some expend, that is not to be the mouthpiece, just transferring steady norms and taking over routine work.

It is also evident that very attractive end "evident" ideas (in the ages of "information burst") of information "compression" and even refusal from certain parts of it in favor of specialization ("the head is overfilled with the information!") are based on simple substitution of the notion of "knowledge" for the notation "information", inability to differentiate knowledge types and transference of scientific knowledge feature onto all other types of knowledge (total scientification, peculiar to scientific type of thinking). Curricula based on such ideas may look attractive, but they are not sound. Forming such components of functional literacy as fast count, fast reading, remembering, selection of the main ideas, mastering computer, training of logics, all this is necessary but not sufficient to be considered the main content of educational process.

According to psychologists, bursts of violence among the schoolchildren, becoming more and more frequent, are the evidence of the lack of tolerance inherent in our children. Such understanding of the situation leads to some prohibitive measures imposed by the Ministry of Education and school administration, thus, forcing the disease inside and also to "explanatory work" of school psychologists that dots not yield steady results. Cultivation of "comprehensive tolerance" and respect to certain limits, alongside with removal of some discriminative factors causing asocial behavior, cannot be based on fear, suggestion or deliberate concealment of the real situation, but on the new notions about modern world and the development of intellect function, and this is what our school does not concern about.

Being victims of "soft" (for teachers, not pupils) teaching, we have to fail in life. Certain exception are children from well-off families who study either abroad in the frame of "human resource" concept, or with private teachers. Today's school hides the machine of social selection.

I dare to state that the above mentioned gaps condemn this country to provinciality or colonization (the signs of both of them are already available), to reproduction of social inequality and making it stable, and discontinuance of interstrata dynamics. It is quite clear that it can cause, withdrawal of capital abroad, including profit centers and the most promising people (what is happening now on a wide scale), future social shocks. Such arguments as "but still children are studying in today school, and nothing terrible is happening" are used only legitimate the situation than must be changed.

 

10. But gaps in the situation are not problems yet. We will face the problems when we start analysing how and at the expense of what (first of all, of the expense of intellectual means) should we "fill" in the gaps. And it will be the problems of our comprehension got used to regularity. It is the matter of the society to make analyses and set problems (such as stating the lack of the methods and means of comprehension, available as well as analytical means and means of arrangement), therefore, it should be widely discussed in public. It is the most important thing now.

 

11. In order to find the way out let's refer to engineering. Traditionally, this word evokes certain association with metal construction. But today spheres of machines and mechanisms, steam and electronics, atom and outer space look like particular cases, even through they are the most development ones. Technique is thought as skill of actions and not as "hardware". Since the moment of its appearance till now, the main subject of its export in our life have remained, evidently, its products. We live surrounded by them. But today engineering expends its influence of particular type on all other fields of life and activity - there is a steady tendency of conquering new fields at the expense of exporting there itself, that is, methods and means of the arrangement of its comprehension and activity, its treasures and its own point of view at the world.

Oppose to the type of naturalistic thinking which is being reproduced by today's system of education, engineering type of thinking, principles of organization and its future are discussed. Its main feature is taking into consideration not an object, but activity with an object and a doer. This type of thinking offers engineering pictures of the world (opposed to scientific one). In the engineering picture of the world such notations as "activity", and "thinking" become of principal importance. Knowledge of them is a necessary tool of any engineering, that is, practical work. Engineering appears to be universal anthropotechnique, sophisticated enough to be believe that it is possible to cope with it "naturally" - through the sun and air.

Development of new curricula in pedagogy, planning and carrying out electoral campaign in policy, arrangements of sociological research, absorption of repatriates, regional and urban development, mastering new territories (Negev, Galaly), electoral system and state organization, reforming, creation of new practices in different subject fields, - all this gets in gap situation and requires engineering work and engineering approaches. (In many cases this gaps are the result of absence or faulty notations, connecting ideas with organization of specific actions). From operational point of view, to be an engineer and deal with engineering mean to conduct processes in various fields of activity, completely and productively - setting the project, analyses and estimation of the situation in enveloping systems (structure and possibilities), determination of problems (discovering and comprehension of the "sites" of the situation gaps and limits), putting forward ideas and developing them to notations (offering the idea of construct that fills in the place of situation gap), application researches including natural scientific ones, designing (setting the scheme requirements to the construct), constructing (development of the construct structures), experimentation, examination, control, realization, etc. An engineer understands how and in what situations should start and stop the processes, how to organize, modify and combine them. And specific material - physical, social, biological and others, on the base of which these processes will be developed, appear and play any part in specific spheres of the engineering applications. Just here, scientific knowledge of its "natural" properties and processes is required. Here, we speak, for instance, of medicine as engineering that uses the knowledge of biological laws, of policy that uses the social life laws of strata, groups, communities, of pedagogy that uses the knowledge of a human being, of engineering itself (E-1), the formation of which began when the first knowledge of the nature laws was received.

 

12. That is the world tendency in engineering, its evident signs are also seen in Israel. Nevertheless, the situation is not discussed, not reflected, and little people regard it as important, significant for social development. It is developing by itself, naturally. But what is not understandable and not controlled, it cannot be used for the good, but can lead to destructing conflicts with different social tendencies and other unwanted consequences. To control and direct it in useful limits, apply and develop comprehensively we, evidently, need competent people, so, formation of engineering thinking should start from school years. However, appropriate educational structures are not available. Today, school subjects are simply copy of scientific subjects. The problem of the formation of the engineering picture of the world is not raised at all. "Products" of our education specializing in specific job, do not see, do not regard activity as a special engineeringobject (because their natural type of thinking excludes such an experience), they are not able to deal with it - they get only partial knowledge of it, supplied through the material of the specific activity and stuck together with this material - without this particular material they not exist. (It is just the same as if we taught how to divide 20 by 2, 30 by 2, and not division in general. God forbid, we would forget how to divide 50 by 2... By the way, recently among us there have lived such engineers who could construct a bridge and a building, an electromotor and everything you would like. They processed "something special"). And students themselves become "partial" people - just - functions intended to hold working place in an existing activity. We lack such places greatly - today's teaching under the cover of education has managed to fill them with stormy dull work and continues increasing the gap as it does not create any conditions for emergence of new activities. Practicalness is being hollowing out of our activity - "bridges are falling in" over Yarkon, over the absorption, over "New (or Old) Middle East". And in the main, nobody can be responsible for the failures (those are "guilty", surely, can be found, but we are not speaking of them, certainly). For, "be responsible" means to correspond to the reality you are responsible for. And partial character of education imposed by the totalization of the science and regarded as the leading organizational principle does not correspond to any reality. In this sense, our education with its stress on the reproduction of "this partial character", confirming and formation of elemental natural type of thinking is antisocial in general though social enough for some social groups. If we consider that practice is a tie between thinking and activity, then our education is simply unpractical, as it does not provide this tie with all the required types of knowledge. Maybe, due to it, development is a very rare guest in the spheres of activity in Israel, but just the growth of any mass - economical, demographical, social, biological, etc. - is greatly appreciated, especially, if is conducted according to foreign recepies?

 

13. In conclusion, the creation of the system of engineering education can be considered one of the most progressive directions in reforming the school education (suppose there are more alternatives, not discussed). The systems has two functions - as the system of introduction in engineering subjects themselves (in engineering-1, or E-1), and as the system intended to create engineering thinking that cover and accumulate various subject fields (E-2). Thus, the term "engineering" has double meaning: E-1 - "applied science" alongside with ways of its realization; E-2 - reflection of E-1. The latter means that E-2 exists actually, that is till it is realized. From this, some significant considerations on the organization of engineering education are followed. In fact we speak about the way of humanitarization of engineering. Constructing relations between E-1 and E-2 in the frame of teaching process is the subject of another discussion.

 

14. Strategy of the educational reform in the light of the above-mentioned theses is discussed. The essence of it is to build a modern system of education "from the bottom" parallel to existing system without entering or troubling it.

The aim of the reform is to remove the gaps. It should be reform from the button, "actual reform" carried out by those who are immediately interested to let their children get modern education, make a career, become the creators their own lives and not plastic packets, scurrying in Tel-Aviv surf, or supply bricks for pharaohs.

 

15. Terms of the work and required resources are discussed. For critics and setting problems a draft of the work program and organizational form are given.

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