You Are A Teacher, You Are Portraying The Whole World

Since ancient times, the Jewish people have believed that “knowledge is the only asset that can be carried around and enjoyed for life.” After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a dozen Nobel Prize winners have emerged from Israel’s population of more than 8 million. This is inseparable from their emphasis on education and their special educational philosophy.

Regarding innovative thinking, striving spirit, teacher training… This interview with Shay Pilon, the former Minister of Education of Israel, may open a new window for your thinking.

Since the announcement of the founding of the nation in 1948, Israel has successfully developed from a small resource-poor country into one of the most modern technological powers in the world in just a few decades. Israel has only a population of more than 8 million, but it has produced more than a dozen Nobel Prize winners. Up to now, more than 130 Jews in the world have won the Nobel Prize. The Jewish nation has less than 0.2% of the world’s population and has won about 24% of the Nobel Prize in the world, covering various disciplines.

Since ancient times, the Jewish people have a tradition of emphasizing education, believing that “knowledge is the wealth that cannot be taken away” and is “the only asset that can be carried around and enjoyed for life.” Gurion, the founding prime minister of Israel, said: “The basic content of Jewish history is that there is no future without education.” Former Prime Minister Mrs. Meir said: “Education investment is a far-sighted investment.” For a long time, the concept of “knowledge is wealth” has been deeply rooted in the minds of every Israeli.

Shay Pilon became Israel’s Minister of Education in March 2013 and the initiator of the “Teach for Israel” project. In 2014, he came to China for the first time and accepted an exclusive interview with Pan Ya, a reporter from World Education Information magazine. Shay Pilon stepped down as Israel’s Minister of Education in June 2015.

TOPIC 1: In Israel, people who do not ask new questions every day are not eligible to sleep

Reporter: In just a few decades after the founding of the state, Israel has risen to a technological power. Many countries want to explore the secrets behind its rise. They want to know why Israel has so many innovations and so many Nobel Prize winners. In your opinion, what role does education play in the cultivation of innovative talents?

Shay Pilon: I think innovation is not a course, nor is it a skill that can be learned in school, but a culture. When we talk about national innovation, we must consider the entire country, not just the education system. Innovative education is embodied in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and universities. It can be said that innovation is contained in all aspects of the country and society.

In Israel, we always teach children to “think out of the box.” When you learn to think outside the box, you will always look forward, begin to learn to think about the new pace of science and technology, begin to see the future development trend of the world, and find the path to open up a new era. Therefore, innovation belongs to the individual as well as to the social group. In Israel, innovation is the spirit of our entire country. I think the difference between Israel and many countries, including China, is this innovative culture.

In Israel, people don’t like silence, they like to ask questions, they like to talk and argue. People who do not ask new questions every day are not eligible to sleep. Encourage students to actively ask questions, which is a crucial point in education. We will not prescribe standard answers. There are often more than one answer to the question, and some may even have no solution. Jewish children have a coming-of-age ceremony when they are 13 years old. At that time we will ask them: “What is your problem? Give us a good question, okay?”

Of course, this innovative culture may also be a double-edged sword, and sometimes it will cause us a lot of small troubles. For example, if you are a teacher, students will scramble to say “I have a problem”, “I also have a problem” and “I have another problem” without saying a few words-unlike Chinese children. I visited a primary school in Beijing and saw the students sitting neatly in the classroom. When the teacher walked in, the students would stand up respectfully and salute. Chinese children listen to the words of their teachers and parents, and respect their elders.


TOPIC 2: Ask why and how when educating children, this is the key to innovative thinking and learning

Reporter: How to guide students to ask questions?

Shay Pilon: When we were children, we learned to ask 7 W questions, who (who), where (where), when (when), what (what), how to do (how), Why (why) and which (which). I want to ask you, out of these 7 W questions, which two are the most important?

In most education systems, in most exams and tests, the two questions that are often asked are what and when. When we educate children, we must ask more why and how. This is the key to innovative thinking and changing the way of thinking. And the key to learning. In many education systems, children only “learn”. In Israel, we emphasize “to learn how to learn”, to learn meaningfully.

Reporter: How to “learn to learn” and how to carry out meaningful learning?

Shay Pilon: I think this is a very broad and very important issue. You need to know how to make one eye see the past and the other eye see the future. Some people stare both eyes on the present, while others stare both eyes on the past. We need to learn how to plan for the future while looking back at the past, while focusing on the present.

On the one hand, history is very important, because we need identity, rules and traditions, and we need to understand the history of our nation and our country. Just like wine, the older it is, the better the wine, and so is history. The roots of the trees on the ground are very strong. When your “roots” are deep, you will say: “I am here, this is my home.” Especially in the more complicated region of the Middle East, we need to lay a deep national history in the hearts of children. The foundation makes them feel the history. When you study history, you must not only understand the relevant content, but also be aware of the problem, and understand what it means to your life and to you.

On the other hand, insights and visions for the future are very important. We need to understand the whole world, understand other countries and nations, and understand what humanity needs. We have repeatedly emphasized to our students that our mission is to change the world, and we must look at education from a higher perspective. We need to let them know that receiving education is not only for personal development, but also to push the whole world forward. Students should stand up from their chairs, participate in social movements, and change the world with their actions.



TOPIC 3: The elite is not limited to the brain, but also in the “hands” and “mind”

Reporter: What kind of people do you think can be called talents? What qualities do innovative talents need to possess?

Shay Pilon: I think everyone is a talent, and everyone can have innovative shining points. Innovative talent does not mean whether you are an athlete, a musician, or a painter. Innovation is the model of society as well as the model of the education system. In my eyes, everyone is gifted, including children with disabilities. In many countries, when people talk about children with disabilities, they always call them children with special needs. For me, all students have special needs. Everyone is a unique individual, all special.

In some cultures, when people talk about “elite” and “talent”, they first think of outstanding people in science and mathematics. I think we must take into account all kinds of “elites.” In fact, everyone has different talents and abilities, and everyone has the potential to become the so-called “elite”. For example, some people have strong adaptability and learning ability; some people are good at languages, can speak several foreign languages, and come and go freely on different thinking tracks; some are good at math and science; some are good at drawing; some are good at tell a story.

Now everyone is talking about the “elite” and all about innovation. In Israel, we recognize that “elite” is not limited to “head”, such as science and mathematics; “elite” also lies in “hand”, for example, some people make exquisite handicrafts, and some people Good at operating machines and equipment; there are some “elites” who are in the heart, for example, some people are good at talking and listening, and know how to give others warmth. In Israel, we treat everyone as an outstanding talent. From kindergarten and elementary school, we have instilled this view into every student. Talents are eclectic. What we have to do is discover and amplify the talents of children.

Reporter: In the 1970s, Israel implemented the “Genius Training Program.” What is the purpose and philosophy of this plan? How are “genius students” selected?

Shay Pilon: Everyone is a genius, but we lack excavation and guidance. The school has formulated several different educational programs according to the children’s learning ability. There are normal classes, outstanding classes and defective classes. Regarding the “Genius Training Program”, we began to understand the different characteristics of children from elementary school and divide them into different classes. A small number of children study in special classes, and most of them study in the ordinary education system. It should be emphasized that the “Genius Training Program” project not only cultivates talents in science and mathematics, but also sets up many kinds of courses to create learning conditions for children with different talents.

Israeli education experts believe that there are two categories of “genius children”, one is spiritual and quality genius, and the other is genius in various projects. Teachers need to help every child to develop in his suitable direction. Israeli experts believe that “genius children” account for about 3% after research and demonstration.

The school has to pass an assessment to determine whether the child is a “genius child”. This kind of assessment is mainly conducted in the form of examinations to determine the child’s IQ and potential in regional examinations. The creativity, imagination and learning spirit of “genius children” are higher than ordinary children. These children are selected through layers of examinations-regional selection is performed at 15%, then 5% is selected, and the last batch of “genius children” is selected at 3%. All children can take the test.

In addition, we also use many other methods, such as workshops, to understand the children’s specialties, and to understand whether they are good at science or drawing. Every region in Israel has an elite center. The teachers of the elite center will go to various schools to find and find some children with special talents. Perhaps the next Nobel Prize winner can be born among these children.

Reporter: What kind of teachers can teach these “genius children”?

Shay Pilon: Through professional teacher training, we select excellent teachers from the education system and teach them how to find and test these talented students. These excellent teachers who have been selected have to learn how to be teachers and how to teach ordinary courses when they are studying teachers’ majors in universities, but they also need to learn special courses and know how to teach those “genius children”. We have staffed teachers who know how to teach children with special gifts in every school.

Students have a few hours of outdoor activities every week. We provide them with special courses such as science and art through the “Genius Development Program” project. Some students spend a whole day of the week studying such courses. From elementary school to university, students can meet university professors and have the opportunity to study and practice in laboratories and universities, so their abilities can be continuously improved.


TOPIC 4: Become a teacher, you will describe the world

Reporter: Good teachers are the guarantee of the quality of education. Israel has always attached great importance to the building and training of teachers. Excuse me, how does Israel cultivate excellent teachers?

Shay Pilon: In the past 5 years, we have raised the status of teacher training to a new level, because we think it’s time to solve the problem of low teacher quality. I think this is also a problem faced by many countries. Common problem. We have initiated many special projects. For example, through the “Youth Activity” project, we have unearthed many talented young people who are interested in becoming teachers; another project is “Teach For All” (Teach For All), which is one of our elite teacher training programs , But also a global project. The project started in the United States and has now expanded to more than 40 countries, of which Israel is one.

In addition, Israel has established “youth groups” to train young people to become qualified teachers. Although this project has just started, it has developed very quickly and surprisingly. This year, in 55 regions of Israel, about 2500 young people have joined the teaching team in each region. Of course, compared with China, this number is not large, but it is amazing for Israel. There are so many young people who are willing to be teachers instead of engaging in high-paying jobs such as doctors and lawyers.

At present, the salaries and remuneration of Israeli teachers are not high, which also affects the enthusiasm of young people to choose a teaching profession. To change this situation, on the one hand, we give teachers higher salaries; on the other hand, we teach young people what it means to be teachers: if you are a painter, you paint on canvas, and if you are a teacher, you are Is depicting the whole world.

Reporter: What qualities do excellent teachers need?

Shay Pilon: I have been a teacher myself. I think that an excellent teacher must first love students, listen to their feelings, and give every student the right to speak so that they can express their opinions frankly and honestly.

Secondly, a good teacher must firmly believe that everyone is a genius, and try to find their shining points and improve them. If the teacher does not see the genius, it can only show that he is insufficient.

Once again, one of the skills of an excellent teacher is to tell stories and express boring subject content vividly and interestingly.

Finally, an excellent teacher is a conductor who can guide students to connect history, present and future, and stimulate their thinking.

Israel is a nation that respects knowledge and pays attention to education. As early as in ancient times, Jews integrated education into their daily lives and formed a tradition of learning for all. This shows the importance of family education and social education. What are the roles of family education, social education, and school education in Israeli education?

Shay Pilon: These three types of education each perform their duties. The Jewish nation has a historical background of more than 2,000 years of diaspora. The family is a symbol of our status and the foundation of everything. Therefore, family education plays the most important role in Israel’s education system. Just like mobile phones need to be charged, the family is the charger for students. Parents inject vitality, hope and dreams into us. This is the origin of education.

What society teaches is a sense of responsibility. There is not only one person in this world. You must learn to consider the feelings of neighbors, friends and other members of society. Teaching students to take responsibility and integrate into society is an indispensable link in the Israeli education system.

The main task of the school is to teach students the tools to help students realize the ideas in their minds, and to let their dreams shine into reality.

Encourage young people to wander and explore the world

Reporter: With the advent of globalization and the information age, education is facing unprecedented challenges and demands for change. How do you think today’s education should adapt to this ever-changing world? What abilities do the younger generations of the future need to possess?

Shay Pilon: In the 21st century, we need a new education system. From knowledge to questioning, from memory to understanding, from teaching materials to dialogue, from teacher to community. The school is different, the learning is different, and the things you learn are different. In the new era, schools need new goals and new visions, and students need different dreams. Therefore, Israeli education needs to be changed and meaningful learning must be carried out.

We attach great importance to cultivating students’ sense of social responsibility. Starting from high school, students must participate in 60 hours of volunteer activities each year, with an average of 70 minutes per week. Teachers’ comments based on students’ performance are directly linked to the “college entrance examination”. Students who have not completed social activities are not eligible to go to university, and those who do not perform well are hardly admitted to good universities.

We are now implementing a new system. After graduating from high school, students first go to the community for a year and do something for the society. At the same time, they go to grand tour, go wandering, use their own power, think about life and the world, and find their own soul and life. Vision. This is education about meaning and vision. Israeli citizens are obliged to perform military service. When they serve in the community for a year, they become a different person.

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