Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Study in Ennui

No, I didn't fall off the planet.  The past couple of weeks, we have been on the road.  Fulbright treated us to a tour of Northern Israel, then Dad and Louise were visiting and we were in Zefat, Tel Aviv, and Mitzpe Ramon.  We took lots of pics, Pam and Noa will blog the travel part.  While visiting David Ben Gurion's home, Jay called (I love cell service in dropped calls since we arrived,) and asked if I wanted to attend a conference where the results of a three-year study in how technology was being taught/used in Israeli Teacher Colleges.  I have learned that a Jay suggestion is worth considering so I made arrangements to attend.  The conference was scheduled to start at 10:30.  In Israeli time, that meant we got going at 11.  Turns out, this was an internal release of the survey results and many of the people were the very people surveyed.  In other words, the people attending were considered innovators in technology use in training teachers.  Some results were predictable.  More educators are using technology now than three years ago.  Some were surprising.  Most teacher colleges were not rated as innovative by either the professors OR the students.  While some teacher candidates reported they felt qualified to teach using technology, this enthusiasm quickly disappeared within the first few years of teaching.  Reasons varied from no support to no tools to too much time required to create lessons using the tools they had.  No one seemed surprised at the results.   As the afternoon wore on, there were calls for greater technology integration.  This will require a great deal of cooperation among different institutions and agencies within the Education Ministry itself if progress is to be made.  I'm not sure if this one study will push people to develop a common vision.  There may be some turf protection issues which require bulldozing.  As Andrew Beyer once asked me, "How many sacred cows will I have to grind into hamburger to achieve this goal?" I have met people from the teachers' colleges, various subject (curricular area) offices, the Education Ministry itself, Mofet, K-12 schools, ORT schools, and Arab schools just to name a few.  In addition, there are private sector companies trying to change the education system from the outside.  An education vision would be helpful, but is probably difficult to achieve right now.  As with so many meetings, I learned that the Israeli education system cannot be reformed quickly or that reform is even a common goal of all interested parties.  This Mofet meeting reminded me of what the American school system was like at the height of segregation.....but that will be a different post.

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