We're glad to be back, but...

Three Israeli high-school students react to the teachers strike and its aftermath.

back to school 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
back to school 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Gal Hirschbrand, grade 11 Change the system I'm a former member of the scouts, I was on the national youth council and I'm still a member of my high school student council. Above all, however, I identify myself as a pupil who's being in the Israeli education system for the past 11 years. During that whole time, I've been fortunate to have had four, or perhaps five, teachers who made me realize the true value of a proper education. That, I define as learning to appreciate the need for boundaries and rules, and combining "intellectual" study with learning about ideals and principles. Unfortunately, the education system hasn't been any of this. The real reason school is good is that sometimes it gives you that something "extra" - like the lessons we get on drugs, violence, sex and morals. That's the important part of our school education. But mostly, we don't get any of that "extra" at all. There's barely a moment for a teacher to talk about morals and ethics. There simply isn't time. I say, make sure there's time! So, I believe I'm right when I say this is an historical moment! It wasn't only what the strike was about, it's the struggle itself. Unfortunately, our nation suffers from chronic apathy. That's made us painfully blind to reality. The only way to get real long-term change in the education system is to work together. Failure to bring about real change isn't an option. I'm proud to be a part of a system that decided to fight for its own recovery. At last, there was realization that, as a democratic society, it was time to rise together and to struggle for our rights! I only hope that the nation as a whole understands just how important the struggle has been. Rafi, grade 12 Abandoned by role-models All in all, I'm dumbstruck about the whole strike. It went on for a ridiculously long time. While it was on, there were countless incidents that shocked the country - violent deaths, bullying, elderly people beaten up, petty thieving - all committed by bored teenage kids who had nothing to do but to get up to trouble. Instead of learning about our democratic rights, and instead of learning the math that we'll need to use once we finish school, we were witness to teachers (or, at least most of them) ditching us for an egocentric leader who seems to have got his kicks from keeping us out of school for as long as possible. The country's security has been jeopardized; keeping us out of school this long will presumably screw up all army-drafting procedures. I very much doubt the Israeli Defense Forces take much interest in what Ran Erez, or any of his union colleagues, believes is the right way to run their "war" against the Treasury. For the first time in my life, like most of my friends, I was absolutely desperate to get back into the classroom - even if not to study. We craved some sort of structured schedule. Without it, we felt lost, our lives completely upside down (up all night, sleep all day). The teachers should never have been so radical. Haven't they always taught us that to talk your views out, to argue your position, is always better than to beat someone up. Teachers - I simply didn't expect this from you! Especially, since some of you used literally to be my role-models. The strike has made me think twice before I'll blindly put my trust in you again. Omri Epstein, grade 12 When it stopped being fun I couldn't remember the last time I had gone to school six days in a row - maybe it was back in mid-April. Strange, but true. First there were matriculation exams, then came the summer vacation, the holidays and then the strike. A long strike. Many students (most, actually) say they don't like school. But I must admit it's nice to meet friends every day at school. Most lessons might be boring, but, once in a while, we learn something from our teachers that's really useful, and usually, it has nothing at all to do with grammar, the Middle Ages, poetry or equations. I understand perfectly the reasons for the strike. It's hard to deal with a class of 40 pupils and to have to cram teaching 500 years of world history into a few hours a week. In summer, most air conditioners in classrooms are three times my age, and less effective than the average fan. I truly think the teachers are not being paid enough for the very important work they do. A strike is good fun - at first. There's plenty of free time, and best of all, you can sleep late in the morning. A strike stops being fun when you have bagrut examinations coming up. That's no joke when you have to prepare on your own, especially when it comes to subjects like math and civics. I'm supposed to finish school in July after which I go directly into the army. The army is already sending me letters and forms to fill out. I just don't have time for another semester to make up the time lost to the strike. You can't help but worry. Excerpted from the Jerusalem Post youth magazines