The city as a learning environment and as an agent of educational change
Posted on March 31, 2014
In the Educational Manifesto, “Changing the Paradigm from Intuition to Science”(2013), Prof. David Chen shows the causes of the education crisis in Israel and in the world; and make several suggestions for applying radical changes both in perception and action. Among others, Prof. Chen points to the need for transition from school as an institution that organizes the learning time and place today to a learning system, in which there is a partnership between family, school and social knowledge agents. “School”, said Professor Chen, “is just one component in the learning system, which runs alongside the other factors: ‘Home’, ‘Training Centers’ and ‘Different Knowledge Agents’.”
Not by chance, the education became one of the topics that cause passionate public discussion. Human knowledge increases at dizzying pace, which doesn’t resemble anything we’ve seen before. We are facing a challenge that is not simple, of closing the gap between the individual’s ability to retain knowledge, innovate and stay up to date, and between the vast knowledge transmitted by means that are a growing number in a frustrating way, not to mention being threatened by the individual.
If you add to this the individual and cultural differences resulting from differences in background, resources , access and options – so we are left with non-qualified fairly large population , graduates and the refugees from the education system , which won’t be able to pass the hurdle of “success” and social recognition , which has huge implications for society and its future.
Therefore, among educators and academics, as well as the general public, it is well recognized that the change is necessary. The question is which change and what the right things to do. Every few years another “plan”, “reform”, or magic solution is conceived, and the loss of direction seems only to become more acute.
I always say that “The early bird catches the worm”, I would like to think that of our city, Holon that made innovative breakthroughs in quality education. The questions we have asked, the directions we have taken, and mainly the search for quality educational processes, more in – depth and more meaningful leave me with the feeling that we almost intuitively have preceded our times and “sowed the seeds” for transforming the entire city into one large and comprehensive education system, and the physical and cultural environment into an agent of change.
What does that mean?
Today, we hear more and more the concepts: “insignificant learning”, “experiential learning”, “learning through individual sharing”, “learning, from experience” and interpersonal experience”. I must say that all these concepts formed the basis of the institutions that we already established ten and twenty years ago. It is true that we did not actually translate the theory into action, but in retrospect you could say that our actions almost perfectly fit the theory.
If we take the example of the Israeli Children’s Museum, which we conceived of almost two decades ago, it is a recreation and enrichment site and the focus of interest for children, not by chance is it called a museum. It holds an exhibition of values, worldliness view and human thoughts of human nature and of people as social beings. Therefore, the child who goes on a journey, for example, after the aliens during his visit to the museum, actually goes on a journey of his own. He wonders who he is and how he fits into human environment, testing where his boundaries end and the next person begins where moving and where the other begins. He is opened for thinking about values such as human value, accepting others, collaboration and more. Therefore, the Children’s Museum for me, is a symbol which reflects the direction to which the social and educational system strives to.
This museum and those that were established later on in Holon, offer an education to the younger generation in the best sense of the word. They expose the children to the three branches of education, which give the younger generation what Prof. Chen calls: the best human knowledge, a kind of modern version of Plato sought to give young people truth (science), beauty ( art ) and justice ( ethics).