Israelis, like Americans, believe that democracy is the most tolerant form of government. By teaching the principles of democracy from an early age children learn that everyone has the right to live in freedom and that ethnic and cultural differences are legitimate components of a pluralistic society.
The Adam Institute for Democracy & Peace sponsors a number of programs aimed at teaching democracy. The Institute has devised an 18-month program to train teachers in their approach and has already used it in other countries.
Jewish and Arab Israeli high school teachers jointly developed a curriculum and materials on democracy for use in their 11th grade classes. The Rules of the Game is a Hebrew University program aimed at acquainting students with the universal principles of democracy; the significance of human and minority rights within the principles of democracy; the historical and comparative background of democratic ideas and practices and the ways and means through which an informed and involved citizen is able to influence governments' decisions and actions. "The Rules" can be adapted to any context in which there is stress and conflict.
The Adam Institute for Democracy & Peace
Ruth Ostrin, International Projects
To teach values related to democracy.
Kindergarten through high school.
Program and Activities:
The Institute runs programs in approximately 100 schools, mostly junior and senior high schools (they're starting a kindergarten and elementary school program). Programs are also run with youth movements, community centers and other groups outside the schools.
The democracy-education program for preschool and elementary school children was developed based on the assumption that children who encounter democratic options at an early stage are likely to choose it and adopt it is as their world view. The program helps children come to know their everyday reality and hones their ability to cope with the clash between the desires of different individuals in society.
This program begins with the recognition of the right to be different. The first section is devoted to recognizing the uniqueness of each individual, beginning with oneself, and acceptance of those who are different. The second part is devoted to clarifying the concept of equality. It is made up of the following subtopics:
a) Understanding the distinction between mathematical equality and equality of worth.
b) Examining the concept of equality in society.
c) Recognizing the equal right to be different.
The educational message is that "I am different from my friend, just as my friend is different from me, but that we are at the same time equal."
The program's second section deals with the principles of democracy. Democracy is defined as "a social covenant between people who agree to recognize the equal right of each person to live according to his or her beliefs and values, so long as he or she recognizes the corresponding right of others to the same."
The first two sections lay the foundations for internalizing the democratic concept. The last three sections look at the following topics:
Rights Clarification of the concept, clarification of the relationship between rights and obligations, conflicts between rights, rights of children and adults.
Majority rule Clarification of when the majority must decide, understanding the majority decision as a means and not as an end, recognition of the need for limits on majority decisions.
The nature of law Definition of the concept, clarification of the need for laws, equality under the law, limits to obedience.
The Adam Institute publishes a number of publications, including a newsletter Kol Adam, and books and pamphlets by Uki Maroshek-Klarman, The Educational Process in Adam Institute Workshops, Betzavta (Together): Guide to Teaching Democracy Through Games, There Is No Such Thing As Some Democracy, and Education For Peace Among Equals.
The principles of democracy need to be taught and if they are conveyed to young children they will become part of a child's world-view.
Understanding democracy can promote tolerance.
Opportunities for Cooperation:
The Institute has devised an 18-month program to train teachers to use their approach. The training has been done in other countries and they are interested in adapting it for the United States. The Institute also has a three-year partnership program. The first year, partners are invited to send a delegation to participate in an eight-day Facilitator Training Course held either in Jerusalem or in the United States. Participants learn informal educational methods for teaching the principles of democracy through games. The second year, a senior staff member of Adam visits the United States to conduct an enrichment course. The focus is on adaptation of the "Together" program based on the experience of the first year. The third year, partners are invited to choose an advanced course in one of the following areas:
Building Blocks of Democracy: teaching democratic concepts in early childhood.
Education for Peace among Equals without Compromise or Concessions: learning approaches to resolving conflicts.
There's No Such Thing as Some Democracy: making schools more democratic.
Security and Democracy: working with army, police and prison services.
Project Encounter: promoting coexistence between groups in conflict.
Partners receive Institute publications and support and guidance in translating and adapting them. They also receive copies of the Institute's quarterly newsletter and are invited to an annual conference on democracy education held in Jerusalem.
The Rules of the Game: Understanding and Implementing Democratic Procedures
Prof. Chaim Adler
To facilitate and enhance coexistence between Israeli Arabs and Jews by presenting and analyzing democratic concepts in the context of Israeli reality.
Jewish and Arab Israeli high school students and their teachers.
Program and Activities:
Jewish and Arab Israeli high school teachers jointly developed a curriculum and materials on democracy for use in their 11th grade classes. The curriculum is aimed at acquainting students with the universal principles of democracy; the significance of human and minority rights within the principles of democracy; the historical and comparative background of democratic ideas and practices and the ways and means through which an informed and involved citizen is able to influence governments' decisions and actions. "Democracy" is examined from an interdisciplinary point of viewhistory, philosophy, psychology, sociology, logic, political science, communication and legal studies. A cognitive approach is stressed, appealing to human reason rather than personal sentiments and feelings, distinguishing empirical findings from value judgments, evidence from hearsay and a logical argument from an emotional one.
"The Rules of the Game" allows Jewish and Arab Israelis, as well as secular and religious Jews, to find a common denominator. Stressing the themes of democracy, human rights and coexistence, "The Rules" can be adapted to any context in which there is stress and conflict.
The program employs and teaches two kinds of strategiesknowledge-based and experiential-based. Knowledge-based strategies include an interdisciplinary curriculum, logical interconnections, rational orientation and a multivocal text. Experiential-based strategies include simulations, role playing, encounter groups and student self-government.
The curriculum contains three volumes:
The Citizen and the democratic state: the individual's public involvement as sustaining democracy.
Voluntary associations, interest groups and political parties as the mediating bodies between the individual and the democratic state.
The democratic civic culture: A necessary condition for a democratic government.
Is there a democratic civic culture in Israel?
A. Mass Media and Democracy
Mass media between the citizens and the government.
Mass media and civic liberties.
Limitations on freedom of expression and the mass media.
The media: A looking glass or a magnifying glass?
Political propaganda: let us read between the lines.
B. "Rule of Law" and the democratic state
The meaning of "Rule of Law." Is a constitution a "must" for a democratic state? An ongoing debate.
The Rule of Law: Selected Issues.
(1) Law and national security
(2) The question of civic disobedience.
The rule of law in the Israeli context: some problems and dilemmas.
Law and individual rights: civil liberties and legislation the current situation in Israel.
The Israeli High Court of Justice and civil liberties.
New teachers are trained annually and the curriculum is updated and revised within the framework of the Ministry of Education's curriculum in civic studies.
Democracy should be examined from an interdisciplinary point of view.
By stressing the themes of democracy, human rights and coexistence it is possible to find a common denominator among diverse groups.
Opportunities for Cooperation:
"Rules" is already based on American principles and can be adapted for a U.S. audience. The curriculum could easily be translated to English. The NCJW Research Institute already has experience in adapting innovative Israeli programs to the United States, having already exported its early-childhood education program (HIPPY) and peer tutoring program (YACHAD).