Why have we chosen Israel as the destination for our Educational Leaders’ Seminar?
Two of the expressions more frequently used to describe the values, ethics and even thought processes in much of the world today are “Judeo-Christian” and “Western.” The birthplace of both of the aforementioned ideas is located – geographically and culturally – in Israel.
Although only 71 years old, with a population of 9 million and smaller than New Jersey, the modern State of Israel constantly finds itself in the center of international attention and conflict. Regional geopolitics have challenged US foreign policy, raising interesting educational questions about the formation and development of democratic regimes, the limits of power, the mixture of religion and politics, etc. Israel is an excellent place to grapple with some of these issues. As a modern democracy that contends with a diverse religious and cultural population and that has fought terror for decades, Israel shares many similarities with the United States. Examining and experiencing how their Israeli peers deal with their local educational dilemmas constitutes an ideal environment in which to challenge and enrich our change agents.
The organizers, funders and educators behind this travel seminar deeply believe that leading American educators can benefit dramatically from a serious, in-depth educational journey to Israel. The main aim of this program is to facilitate a conversation and exchange of ideas between top-notch educational leaders in Pittsburgh and their Israeli counterparts. We know that the mutual and reciprocal exposure to programs and the people behind them will engender creativity, knowledge and cross-fertilization of ideas. Professional and personal relationships stemming from a common goal – to improve our educational systems, environments and productivity – are another important purpose behind this seminar.
The Educational Leaders Study Seminar to Israel will provide participants a broader global perspective and help them to examine their role as school/community change-agents by:
- engaging the leaders as life-long experiential learners
- challenging leaders to examine and grapple with moral and ethical dilemmas facing other societies;
- reflecting on the commonalities of the moral and ethical issues that arise within their own leadership and how they resolve them;
- recognizing characteristics of the visionary leadership necessary to become a change agent;
- exposing the participants to a broad spectrum of educational initiatives and programs that operate in Israel;
- cultivating a community of dedicated educators who learn together and share insights, promoting educational excellence through the exchange of ideas
- examining the characteristics of regional cultures and their interactions from antiquity to the modern era;
- learning first-hand about the causes and ongoing effects of one of the world's most implacable conflicts;
- comparing and contrasting the U.S. and Israeli democratic systems of government and current challenges facing both;
- comparing how the U.S. and Israel have dealt with modern problems (i.e. how democracies fight against terrorism and the limits of power); and
- supporting the creation of curriculum and techniques to facilitate implementation within their schools.
The Educational Leaders Seminar supports the following National Policy Board for Educational Administration (2015) Professional Standards for Educational Leaders:
Standard 1. Mission, Vision, and Core Values-Effective educational leaders develop, advocate, and enact a shared mission, vision, and core values of high-quality education and academic success and well-being of each student.
Observation of and conversation with Israeli educational leaders will provide the participants with the opportunity to clarify and expand their personal and professional core values on which they develop their own instructional leadership practice.
Standard 2. Ethics and Professional Norms-Effective educational leaders act ethically and according to professional norms to promote each student’s academic success and well-being.
Through study of ethical and moral dilemmas faced by a developing nation, the educational leader will examine his/her own integrity, ethics, and morality as it applies to the challenges of professional leadership.
Standard 3. Equity and Cultural Responsiveness-Effective educational leaders strive for equity of educational opportunity and culturally responsive practices to promote each student’s academic success and well-being.
Globally engaged leaders create inclusive schools that meet the increasingly diverse needs of all students, addressing equity and cultural responsiveness. Through interaction and observation, participants will develop a deeper sensitivity to issues of diversity.
Standard 4. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment-Effective educational leaders develop and support intellectually rigorous and coherent systems of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to promote each student’s academic success and well-being.
Participants will visit a variety of culturally and instructionally diverse schools and share ideas with Israeli counterparts to stimulate creativity, knowledge, and cross-fertilization of ideas. They will have opportunities to explore alternative pedagogical practice, instructional technologies, and examine the needs of culturally diverse learners.
Additional questions that will be answered on this seminar in Israel include:
- How did a relatively small geographic area come to initiate and express key ideas (such as the Bible) thousands of years ago?
- Why has Jewish thought been such a strong influence on surrounding cultures throughout ancient and modern history?
- Why has this region been the focus of conflict in modern times, what solutions are in the making, and what are their chances?
- What can we learn about our own American identities through our interaction with a similar but different society?