Israel education is rooted in a cultural approach, which focuses on the role of social contexts and dynamics in education. Immersive environments are settings, which can influence attitudes by virtue of their synergistic nature. Connectedness refers to social linkages created by social networks. Virtual communities offer opportunities for enhancing an immersive approach to Israel education. The Israel experience is a significantly new Jewish educational framework. As in all education, the educator is a seminal force in the realization of the educational vision. This chapter focuses on the creation of a socio-cultural framework for Israel education. We examine several ideas about culture and context as threads which when woven together form the tapestry that we call “a culture of Israel education”.
The aim of Israel education is relationship; the subject is the person; and the domain is value education. Whether one is teaching American history, ethnic heritage, or contemporary Israel, one has entered arenas that are about values and value choices. Ours is not to preach the right or the wrong; it is to develop the ability to negotiate the complex landscape known as life. The ability to negotiate this landscape is one the core missions of education; it is in this sense that Palmer speaks about the courage to teach. The challenge raised in the contemporary discussion of Israel is about the larger issues of conflict and decisions. The world in which we live includes dissonance and conflict. The cultures we live in do not fit together like the perfect jigsaw puzzle. There are sometimes pieces that take a long time to put in the right spot; sometimes pieces get lost; sometimes you just don’t have any more patience and you break up the pieces out of frustration—or pleasure. Our task in Israel education is very much related to helping our charges through the deeply engaging, and also periodically complicating, pathways that constitute an Israeli relationship. This task encompasses dealing with difficult issues in a way that is developmentally appropriate, while also allowing voices of assent and dissent to be heard. One of the virtues of contemporary Israeli life is the presence of diverse voices, and they should find their place in the life and education of our young at the opportune moments. Our task as educators is to be passionate about a culture of open dialogue of diverse opinions, policies, and perspectives. One of the ways that a person learns to be a choosing person is by being around people and educational settings that teach us that choice exists and how to deal with it. The pathways of Israel, old and new, are lined with past treasures and contemporary achievement, and along the way there have been, are, and always will be diverse side roads and sometimes even dead ends. Twenty-first-century life includes complexity and nuance. This is not a position of compromise or weakness or of compliance; this is the culture of the will to educate.
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