Nothing New Under the Sun

For all the "revolutions" and "reforms," it is no longer possible to see the educational forest, which is a dense one. It is not easy to forge a path through it, and there are no short cuts. When the new school year opens, the air fills with burgeoning revolutions. Regrettably, there is no one who does not have a revolution on his lips - yet another reform.

Benjamin Netanyahu is also among the revolutionaries. At a press conference yesterday, he entered the forest and promised his own revolution: Within a few years, he announced, he will restore the system's former glory, and Israel's students will once again be at the top of the international achievement tables. The Jewish brain that has come up with so many new ideas still has more tricks and contrivances in store, and Netanyahu, it seems, has an idea as well.

Granted, only four or five years have passed since he cut a swathe through the educational plantation far greater than any other before or since. But now he has repented, which brings us back to the question: Is it only recently that Netanyahu saw the great educational light, after walking in darkness for years? There are grounds for fearing that he will not make haste to correct what was warped during his term as finance minister.

Last month, he gave clear signs of his revolution: I read an interview in TheMarker in which he said: "What I did in the capital market needs to be done in education." But he has no idea what he is talking about. It is not enough to skim the McKinsey report and copy from it as if it were the Torah from Sinai. After all, there is not the slightest similarity between the capital market and education, which is not a market at all, and to which the laws of the market must not be applied. Privatization, so beloved of Netanyahu, must also be kept far away from this field.

Ehud Barak also evidently has revolutionary plans. If not, how else can one interpret his "wet dream," as he put it, of being both prime minister and education minister, simultaneously? Once again, we must hope that this lovely dream never comes true - or at least, not in its entirety.

For the thousandth time, we must reiterate that personal example is the best educator; without it, education has no chance. And personal example means incorruptibility, nobility, modesty and dwelling among one's people rather than far away and high above them. So how can Barak and Netanyahu, of all people, instill fundamental values - those who speak beautifully, but carry out their grandiose statements rather less beautifully? It is hard to serve as an example from villas and hotels and first-class airline seats, and it is impossible to educate with bloated wallets.

Don't believe them. There are no revolutions in education; there never have been, and there never will be. The education system is like a giant ship, and anyone who tries to change its course with a sharp turn of the helm will only cause it to sink. When will we have a responsible captain who eschews grand words and focuses on small steps, for a change? Then, only then, will there be new hope for education.

Long live small, but desperately necessary course corrections.