The Israel Education Ministry has launched a plan to attract high school students to study literature, Bible and history using movies, YouTube and advanced Internet technology. The plan was created following a sharp drop in the number of students taking matriculation exams in the full five-unit levels in humanities.
The last State Comptroller’s Report found that in 2011, 1,447 students − only 2.7 percent of the students in the state education system − took the five-unit level matriculation exam in literature, compared to 2,400 in 2006. Also in 2011, 543 students wrote the Bible exam and 345 wrote the history exam − 1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively − compared to more than 2 percent in 2004.
The ministry issued a management circular urging schools to encourage students to study the humanities. The ministry promised financial assistance to schools in which fewer than 15 students want to study humanities, to enable them to open smaller classes.
The ministry plans to open classrooms in Haifa and Tel Aviv for students whose schools don’t offer studies in humanities subjects. Schools will be required to report to the ministry on how many of their students took core humanities subjects for five-unit level matriculation exams.
In the circular, the ministry’s Pedagogical Secretariat called on teachers to refresh the curriculum by combining multidisciplinary studies. For example, history teachers were asked to combine literature, movies and lectures by well-known historians from YouTube in their lessons.
The ministry urges teachers to make use of Google Earth, social networks and Web 2.0 − advanced Internet technology and applications including blogs, wikis, RSS and social bookmarking. It also encourages creating alternative study spaces such as study tours, debating clubs and virtual meetings between schools.
Read the entire article in Haaretz.