חוק חינוך, חובה?
by Ilanit Katz
I can finally say I finished my first year of teaching. At the beginning this year looked it will never end, but it even went by pretty fast. Year of mixed feelings, satisfaction and sense of underachievement, a lot of learning and constant questions that bothered my mind.
This year I met quite a few students of different ages, ranging from 13-15 coming from different backgrounds, from different countries, from different neighborhoods in Jerusalem, But there was one thing they all had in common, there will to not do anything in class.
Well I do not will like to generalize and say that really they were all like this, but you could say that the majority did not come to school to learn. I will not forget the lesson when I almost lost my temper and I asked innocently – “why do you come to school? And one student replied truthfully - "חוק חינוך חובה." His answer might not represent the feelings of all the students in Israel, however, it made me ask myself- what do we really want from these children? What do we really want from them? Why do we require them to solve mathematical problems, read scientific text in English and study the History of the world when their dream is to open a Falafel stand in Shuk Mahane Yehuda? Why should they break their heads if they are not even interested in going to university?
We talk about equality of opportunity and every child in Israel must have a possibility to receive higher education and progress. I feel that we the teachers believe in this fundamentals, however the problem is that “the more the calf wants to drink the cow will feed”. This is the root problem in our educational system especially regarding students who come from a weak community.
For those students a university degree seems like a dream, a dream that cannot come true and the very thought of it causes them to back off pretty quickly and dream of things attainable. One wants to be a footballer, another wants to be a taxi driver and yet another would like to open a falafel stand. These students do not know a neighbor or who is studying at the university, certainly not a relative or parent.
I think when a person is force to do something against his will it will be very difficult to bring him success. However, someone who does something because he sees a purpose to it will make an effort even when it’s hard. Students need meaning in their learning, they need the why, why do I come to school and the answer cannot be- "חוק חינוך חובה".
In a brief conversation with the school principal I was able to talk to him about this and suggested to him an idea that I have had in mind for a while. My idea is to create a series of lectures given by guest speakers coming from similar backgrounds of our students, for example a Ethiopian man, a Ole Hadash etc, who is a university professor, doctor, works in High-tack etc. I believe that when a student meets someone who will be able to show him that he seceded in spite of everything and he will tell him that he can also dream, achieve, and improve his quality of life, the student will be able to change his mind about the possibilities of his future and justify the struggles the will come along with its achievement.