Reader’s comment: By which yardstick should we measure education?

One of the more critical readers of this blog emailed me in response to my piece comparing education in Finland to that in Israel. I don’t know if he wants me to name him, so I’ll leave him anonymous. He wrote:

Ahem. Let’s try to find a few yardsticks to measure things here. The number of startups here and the number of startups in Finland. The number of unique books published by unique authors. The number of artists. The number of orchestras or dance groups…..The number of Nobel laureates (we have more than China, as well).

You can say what you want about how the edu system doesn’t work – on paper – but by any measure, we have the results to prove otherwise. Continue reading

Is it education or crowd control?

I watched an interesting TV program on education in Finland last night. Nokia may be up the creek but, by all accounts, the Finns sure know how to educate kids.

The program was particularly illuminating when compared to the one I watched the previous night about the first day of the new school year in Israel.  Put simply, while the Finns are grappling with the serious issues of how to get and keep the attention of schoolchildren and whether there is any value in testing, the worthies responsible for education in Israel are busy clowning for the camera.

That’s all it was; a photo-op for the prime minister, his minister of education, the mayor of Jerusalem, the president and other geniuses who wouldn’t know a good education if it farted in their faces. And wouldn’t care either. The kids in the clips were simply extras and the bemused looks on their faces showed it all. They thought that school was all about them, but they were wrong. Like everything else in Israel, it’s all about the politicians. Continue reading

There’s only room for one alpha male around here

Charles Darwin wrote that “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

It is a lesson that has gone unlearnt in Israel.

We continue threatening to use force and opting for military solutions as we always have. As if nothing changes. As if the Middle East hasn’t been turned upside-down by the so-called Arab Spring and Syria isn’t imploding on our doorstep. As if an Islamic country, Pakistan, doesn’t already have nuclear capability and the entirety of Israel isn’t within the range of thousands of missiles from far and near. Continue reading

Gimme Shelter (preferably with air-conditioning)

It’s safe to assume that Sarah Netanyahu won’t be sitting beside me in the public bomb-shelter when Iranian missiles fall on Tel Aviv – assuming, that is, that whoever is in charge of the shelter has been able to find the key or remembers to open it before scooting off to the elite, all-luxuries-included shelter to which he has access by virtue of his position.

It’s just as safe to assume that Mrs. Barak won’t be joining me and mine either, and that neither will the children, relatives, friends and hangers-on of the two men who, it seems increasingly likely, will be deciding to go to war against Iran one of these days. Protektzia – knowing someone who knows someone – is a hallowed tradition in Israel, and never more so than when the bombs are falling. Continue reading