One of Israels first public colleges, Beit Berl is renowned for its teacher education, with graduates constituting about one in five of Israels educators in the Jewish secular and Arab public school systems. With 10,000 students, and multi-disciplinary studies in the Faculties of Education, Society and Culture, and Arts, the College is breaking new ground in melding top-notch, hands-on education with a commitment to advancing a shared, equitable and inclusive society in Israel.
The College attracts the best and brightest into teaching in the critical fields of STEM and English, so that Israel maintains its qualitative edge into the future. Whether students are being prepared for teaching sciences, or receiving an arts education in Beit Berls HaMidrasha School of Arts, fostering critical and creative thinking is a common theme.
Tools for the global economy
Israels place in the global marketplace rests on a strong knowledge base in mathematics and the sciences, and on the ability to communicate in English. With an alarming drop in Israeli pupils studying physics, chemistry and mathematics – and a concomitant shortage of skilled math, technology, science and English teachers – Israels entrepreneurial advantage is threatened. To address this challenge, Beit Berl College has embarked on an ambitious effort to recruit and train educators in these critical fields. Drawing on its vast experience in teacher development and 21st century educational models, the College is cultivating a new cadre of inspirational math, science and English teachers who will attract young men and women to these critical subjects throughout the country.
Beit Berl College leads in professionalizing the teaching field, with new programs for college graduates to be retrained for careers in mathematics and science education. Liat Aharon (with a B.A. in political science and an M.B.A.) reached the management level at Israeli high-tech giant Amdocs. After 15 years in technology, she enrolled at Beit Berl College to pursue her dream: to help young people get ahead. Liat received her teaching certificate in June, and today is teaching mathematics in the Sharett High School in Netanya.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Trump Foundation (founded by brothers Jules and Eddie – of a Miami Jewish family), Beit Berl College offers a prestigious program, Above and Beyond, to train expert teachers of advanced mathematics for Jewish and Arab high schools throughout the country; and to increase the number of high school girls who study and succeed in advanced mathematics.
Connecting theory with practice, the one-year intensive teacher preparation takes place primarily in the high schools themselves, with intensive study days on the College campus. The clinical training is based on experiencing teaching simulations, documenting and analyzing various teaching situations, didactic workshops and more. Graduates support one another in the field, building an elite unit of excellent math teachers as a spearhead to promote advanced math education for all Israelis. This year, Beit Berl College will expand the model to train advanced physics teachers.
Recently, the Ministry of Education identified a serious shortage in qualified English teachers at all grade levels. Beit Berl Colleges English Department has stepped up to the plate, with re-training programs for college graduates. All course instruction in this program is given in English, allowing students to be almost fully immersed in the language.
Beit Berl Colleges initiatives to meet the challenges of the global economy will culminate in three specialized M.Teach programs due to open next year. These unique programs will provide a masters degree and certification to teach advanced high school matriculation in mathematics, the sciences and English to qualified holders of bachelors degrees in relevant subject areas.
Engaging the socio-economic periphery
As a small country with limited resources, Israel cannot afford to leave major portions of the population behind. Beit Berl College excels in experiential education, community education and programs designed to train youth workers to provide at-risk youth with an opportunity to succeed and to contribute to society.
One unique model for community education in Israels periphery was created by Beit Berl in cooperation with alumni from Israels leading youth movements – Dror Israel, HaMahanot HaOlim, HaShomer HaTzair and Al Ajial. The Martin Buber Beit-Midrash for Dialogue-Education trains hundreds of community activists each year – both Jewish and Arab – creating a community of learning in which teachers and students pose vital questions and set about together to explore them, using academic texts, service learning, poetry, art, films, interviews in seminars, field work and independent research.
The B.Ed. in Informal Education, together with a teaching certificate, prepares graduates to stimulate critical thinking and a culture of activism in schools and community settings in marginalized communities throughout the country. Living in cooperative, intentional communities in low-income development towns and Arab villages throughout Israel, the students of the Beit Midrash use what they learn every day when they return home – in the neighborhoods, schools, community centers and youth movements in which they work, volunteer and organize – working to close social gaps in Israeli society.
Connecting across boundaries
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warns that Israeli society is increasingly fracturing into four tribes – with vastly different opportunities and views regarding the future of Israeli society. Today, Israels first-grade population is composed of about 38% secular Jews, 15% national-religious Jews, about one-quarter Arabs, and close to one-quarter ultra-Orthodox (Haredim).
Located at the geographic intersection of Israels Triangle Region with its large Arab population, Israels high-tech Silicon Valley and a major Haredi population center, Beit Berl College represents a microcosm of Israeli society, and sees the diversity of the faculty and student body as a remarkable educational asset. With ultra-Orthodox students, secular Jews and Arab Israelis learning together, Beit Berl College – more than perhaps any other educational institution in Israel – is a model of diversity, pluralism and inclusion.
This year, the Colleges Center for the Advancement of a Shared Society will pilot a new course for teaching in a diverse Israeli society. Co-taught by Jewish and Arab faculty members, the course will allow Beit Berl students to come together to explore their own place in Israeli society within the context of a pluralistic democracy. In addition, the Centers courses in spoken Arabic for faculty and students contribute to the atmosphere of mutual respect on campus.
In both the Faculties of Education and the Arts, Beit Berl students co-teach in Jewish and Arab schools in the surrounding communities, bringing together hundreds of school children, and learning to teach across cultural boundaries.
Finally, Beit Berl College reaches far beyond Israels borders through dozens of international faculty and student exchanges with Eastern and Western Europe and the United States – in film co-productions, Holocaust studies, artistic explorations, political science, and information and communication technology.
HaMidrasha Exhibition at Tel Aviv Museum – December 2016
Since 1946, HaMidrasha–Beit Berl Colleges School of Arts has trained generations of artists, art teachers, filmmakers and creators in digital media. Celebrating 70 years of influence on Israeli culture and arts education, Tel Aviv Museums Helena Rubinstein Pavilion will host Art School, an experiential exhibition honoring HaMidrasha. Creating a school in the museum space, the exhibition, curated by faculty member Avi Lubin, will examine the role, activity and methodology of a school of arts – and that of a museum – in the 21st century. Throughout the month of December 2016, established and emerging artists will display existing works and those created for the exhibit, and will teach in workshops, lectures and classes in the museum school. If you are in Israel in December, please contact us for a special tour.
For more information about Beit Berl College and the December arts exhibit, visit www.beitberl.ac.il/english or contact Sarah Kreimer: email@example.com.