Monday, February 06, 2012

Education in Israel: When "English Class" Aims Higher

On Saturday night, my 6th grade daughter notified me she was going over to a girlfriend's house for the night, to study for an upcoming exam in English. As the daughter of "Anglo" parents, she studies English in a special class -- 'English for English Speakers."

Over the years, my kids have been in this advanced class, yet they still (unfortunately) lag behind their counterparts in the US. While their English is excellent from an Israeli point of view, they aren't on the same level as if they lived abroad. A small price to pay for living here.

Yet when I asked my daughter about what was on her upcoming exam, her reply came as an unexpected, refreshing shock.


"I need to know about the 3 branches of the American Government, the preamble of the US Constitution, the 5 freedoms in the first amendment, and the first 10 amendments of the "Bill of Rights."

I don't remember having to know that in 6th grade in the US...maybe in 7th grade or later. I was thrilled to be able to review with her the system of "checks and balances" of the US government, explain what a "jury of peers" is, and the importance of the freedoms granted by the "Bill of Rights." "Bearing Arms" and "quartering soldiers" were new words and concepts that she had never heard of before.

Since it wasn't easy for a non-native English speaker like my daughter to memorize all of the above, I found "Schoolhouse Rock" videos from youtube that help explain the above in song form. We made up a rap song called "RAPPS" -- for the 5 freedoms in the first amendement, "Religion, Assembly, Press, Petition and Speech"

Kudos to my daughter's English teacher who aims higher when educating our kids in Israel -- there is so much to learn and appreciate from the USA's democracy, government and legal system. Its a shame that Israelis who aren't in my daughter's "English for English Speakers" class are never formally exposed to such concepts -- Israel has a long way to go before we can match the freedoms and democracy in the US.

Maybe we'll get there one day.


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19 comments:

Mrs. S. said...

Very impressive! Similarly, our sons had to write full-length research papers for their English for English Speakers class (with outlines, sources, etc.) - which is something that they almost never had to do in any other class.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

sources? like copy/paste from wikipedia? :-)

Mrs. S. said...

LOL! :-)

Juniper in the Desert said...

We in UK have no constitution and only certain people will EVER understand the convoluted, byzantine ways of parliament. The judiciary makes laws on the hoof and of course we have the overbearing Fourth Reich - I mean the EU, to obey!
Unfortunately Israel DID absorb some of the stuff the Brits/Euros do, for instance their voting methods.

motherof4 said...

My daughter, although not a native English speaker, was in the Dovrei Anglit class last year and apparently had the same teacher. The amount of general knowledge she learnt, whether about the American Constituion or science or math was amazing. This teacher was the best thing to happen to her last year.

HolyCityPrayer said...

so mother of four and jameel, tell us who this prize winning teacher is!

Nachum said...

There's a sixth clause in the First Amendment. Look it up.

josh said...

No ex-pommies, Canadians or South Africans in the class?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Nachum: As I'm sure you know...

The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating,

“ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ”

Together with the Free Exercise Clause ("... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), these two clauses make up what are called the "religion clauses" of the First Amendment.

The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference by the U.S. government of one religion over another. The first approach is called the "separation" or "no aid" interpretation, while the second approach is called the "non-preferential" or "accommodation" interpretation. The accommodation interpretation prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another, but does not prohibit the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause.


Its easier to simply say "Freedom of Religion" (getting her to memorize everything was tough enough :)

sara g said...

Sounds lovely! I have taught the Deceleration of Independence in regular Israeli English classes.

Nachum said...

Jameel, my point is simply that Israel (and lots of other countries) has freedom of religion, but not an establishment clause.

Renegade said...

FYI:
"http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/19357">http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/19357

This seems like the type of thing which would interest those here...

Anonymous said...

I am very pleased to hear this. As an Oleh from the States, one of my biggest problems with the public education system in my home state of NJ is that we didn't learn the Constitution at all.

Personally I believe if Constitution and Economics were a staple in the American public school curriculum, the US would be a much wealthier, healthier and stable place right now.

Thought about getting involved to make the change from the ground up, but then Israel called. So here I am.

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nice post

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MusicaNeo said...

nice

first world war said...

great work

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