Source: Journal of Jewish Education, 82:3, 231-257
This article summarizes a study of the viewpoints of Bible lecturers in the Kindergarten Education Department while teaching content related to the biblical “other.” The study, by two researchers themselves part of the study population, was conducted according to the qualitative approach and included interviews with participants from a State Education and a State-Religious college. The findings highlight the different points of origin vis-à-vis Bible studies and the search for the connection between the “other” of the Bible, the students’ own world and later, that of the children while indicating discrepancies between declared objectives and the characteristics of the students.
This study examined the attitudes of Bible lecturers at Early Education faculties in two colleges, vis-à-vis the unique issue of the relation toward the “other” in the Bible. This issue is connected to a range of topical subjects relevant across all sectors of Israeli society. The study’s findings showed, in different ways, the disinterest in moral issues arising from the Bible stories of the majority of the students at both colleges. In addition, the study showed the repeated attempts of the Bible lecturers at both colleges to interest and reconnect the students with these issues, and the intellectual and practical efforts they undertake to this end. It seems to us that this central issue has ramifications both on research and implemental levels. Alongside the in-depth study that this issue invites, the practical attention of policy-makers in the field of training teachers’ educators and kindergarten teachers in particular, is also needed. In light of the kindergarten teachers’ centrality in the molding of the children’s moral perceptions, there is scope for encouraging time and resources to the field of moral education during their training. The Bible courses in the early education faculties possess the potential to constitute a platform for dealing with these issues. The findings regarding the question of the relevance and actualization in teaching the issue of the biblical “other” indicate significant uncertainties in this regard and there would seem to be scope for their clarification beyond the framework of this study.
The study showed that beyond the differences between the colleges, the reality described in this article traverses the different sectors to which the colleges and their teaching and student populations belong. It can be proposed therefore, that apart from the necessary discussion at each college, in-depth processes in these fields be undertaken including joint groups of interest that integrate a cross-section of populations from the different colleges. This idea in of itself has the potential to enable the familiarization of the lecturers from each of the colleges with the “other” from the other college, thereby enriching the general view of the other. The central findings, indicating that the humanistic approach guides the lecturers at both colleges, are of importance when set against the background of the nature of Jewish society in Israel that is largely perceived as divided and polarized.
Even though this study encompassed only the two colleges, the findings presented might testify on other varied colleges that have similar orientations. Furthermore, we suggest looking at the meaningful similarity that was exposed between the two kinds of colleges, as a mirror to larger populations in the Israeli society: The dichotomist distinction between religious and secular no longer reflects these populations' larger and more complex picture.