The Economics of Edutainment: The Impact on the Year in Israel Programs


Source: ATID 


Over the past few months, several educators involved in One-Year Israel Programs that educate students from the Diaspora have approached members of the ATID faculty to raise issues about the world of yeshivot and seminaries. After asking those educators to put pen to paper and articulate their concerns, ATID received two short essays, one on a proclaimed decline in the rigor of the education and the other on the deplorable employment conditions of staff. One need not agree with each and every one of their concerns to agree that the issues are worth discussing seriously.


Normally, ATID is opposed to anonymous writing, particularly when criticizing others. If one has something critical to say, one should stand by it openly. In this, they made an exception, since publicizing the authors' names could hurt their job prospects.


In "The Closing of the One-Year-Program Mind" the author claims that the proliferation of one-year Israel learning programs has resulted in a "watering down" of the learning and the seriousness of the endeavor.

He adds: "The year in Israel has been transformed from a year of intensive Torah education to a "gap year" of entertainment, diminished responsibilities, and personal release from some of the academic pressures of high school (where grades really matter)."


In "The Economics of the Year-in-Israel Job Market", the author describes how the competitiveness of the One Year Program Market has resulted in administrators relating to teaching staff as day laborers severely cutting back on their benefits and job stability.


He writes: "The dynamic is very clear. Schools have no vested interest in committing to a set faculty. The risk of having a bad mix one year, or simply not being attuned to student entitlement is reason for that approach. This sets in motion a dynamic that forces teachers into a secondary role within the school-one that by its very nature robs them of stability and the ability to plan in the long range. If this trend continues, professional educators with families to support might find that they are no longer able to contribute their talents to the One Year Programs."

Updated: Mar. 15, 2010