Jewish pupils score dismally in Zionism

Knesset report blames learning-by-rote for pupils' ignorance

homeschooling 88 (photo credit: )
homeschooling 88
(photo credit: )
Israeli pupils finish their studies with a troublingly low level of knowledge of Zionism, according to figures released this week by the Knesset's research institute. The study, produced for the Education Committee of the Knesset, noted that the average pre-matriculation score on questions of Zionism stood at 63 percent, the same for both the state-secular and state-religious system. Pupils in the non-Jewish education systems, including Druse, Israeli Arab and Beduin, scored almost as high as the Jewish pupils, at roughly 59%. Reacting to the results of the study, Knesset Education Committee chairman MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) said that "students' scores are low because Zionism should not be taught the way it is taught. "Israeli society and the education system are avoiding dealing in a deep way with the question of Zionism and the moral meaning of our being here. It's not a comfortable question, so it's [considered] better to avoid the topic." On one of the tests, 36% of Jewish students didn't know that Ze'ev Jabotinski established the Beitar movement and 32% didn't know that in the Balfour Declaration the government of Britain promised to aid in the establishment of a Jewish home in mandatory Palestine. The results come from tests examining knowledge of "tradition, Zionism and democracy," in which one-third of the exam questions deal with Zionism. The report calls into question both the exams and the study methods for Zionism education in Israeli schools. According to the report's authors and experts cited therein, the exams are multiple-choice, and so test how well students memorize historical facts, not how they understand concepts. A new study plan, piloted in 140 Jewish and Druse schools this past school year, is attempting to reform the learning-by-rote nature of Zionism education in the school system. Entitled "Living the Zionist Dream," the main feature is discussions on Zionist values.