"Mixed" schools with secular and religious children have been around since the 1980s but the trend has been gaining momentum. Now academia is getting on board. For the first time in the upcoming school year, teachers will be trained to handle these mixed classes, courtesy of Kibbutzim College.
The first schools to pilot the integrated classrooms, in Kfar Adumim, Tekoa and Beit Horon countered the conventional separation between "public" schools (secular in nature) and "public religious" schools. Their aim was to strengthen both Jewish and democratic identity among students.
Major encouragement for mixed religious-secular schools came in 2008 when the Knesset passed a law recognizing the new movement. The law allows any school, public or religious, to integrate its classrooms with approval of at least two-thirds of the school's parents and a majority of teachers.The school is also required to submit a curriculum that emphasizes Jewish identity and tolerance.
About 20 mixed schools now operate in Israel, from Shlomi in the north to Be’er Sheva in the south, along with a similar number of kindergartens. About 10 additional schools are being established.
The spread of the movement has created a need for teachers trained to handle mixed classes. The ability to work with the complexity of many issues which arise in the classroom is also necessary.
A special program to prepare teachers of mixed classrooms, which is being developed jointly by the Institute for Democratic Education, Kibbutzim College and Tzav Pius, also focuses on dialogue. There will also be much emphasis on teachers’ educational identity, what sort of world view they bring to the classroom.
Read the entire article in Haaretz.