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היום הבינלאומי במרכז TEC 12/04/16
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The TEC4SCHOOLS Program

An Innovative Program by the TEC Center for Social Change through Multicultural Cooperative Online Learning and Teaching

 The Center for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity has come together with the Kibbutzim College of Education and the Ministry of Education to create an inter-religious, inter-cultural discourse between all parts of Israel’s multicultural society. Currently, the TEC4SCHOOLS Program is the most comprehensive program in Israel for multi-cultural education, involving more than 100 schools and over 3,000 children.


TEC4SCHOOLS: A Groundbreaking and Pioneering Program in Israeli Education

Israeli society is in a constant state of tension, which is only growing worse as conflicts between and among sectors come into starker relief. The secular Jewish sector, the religious Jewish sector, and the various parts of the Arab sector experience conflicts that become more serious, or less, depending on social and political developments in the Middle East. In the Israeli school system, the various sectors are completely segregated from one another: students in the secular Jewish, religious Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Bedouin and Druze sectors never have a real opportunity to meet and get to know one another, in depth and over time, or to study with students from other sectors in an institutionalized, cooperative fashion. In order to provide a response to the deepening chasms in society, the TEC Center and the Ministry of Education initiated a social and educational project designed to create a multi‑sectorial discourse. It is the first program in Israel developed for multicultural cooperative learning in the different sectors of Israeli society, using advanced technologies, providing a real possibility of narrowing the gaps and overcoming the physical barriers so as to generate long-term human encounters, while also respecting the differences between the students. The online learning, facilitated by specially trained teachers, becomes a shared journey of personal and multicultural acquaintance. Therein lie the pioneering spirit and innovative approach of TEC4SCHOOLS.


The TEC4SCHOOLS Vision: Fostering Respect and Accepting the Other

The TEC Center’s goal is to assimilate the model of online cooperative learning in the school system to change preconceptions, prejudices, negative opinions and stereotypes that affect Arabs and Jews, and religious and secular Jews in Israel, from an early age. The program’s goal is to develop inter-cultural relations in cyberspace, connect young children in the school system, and start a discussion leading to understanding between the different cultures in Israel’s divided society. All those involved in the project hope that, one day, when the children who participated in the program grow up, they will, when meeting "The Other," feel part of the same community – citizens of a state in which conflicts become challenges, quarrels become discussions between equals, and feelings of alienation become a sense of togetherness, on the way to a better, more democratic, pluralistic and tolerant society.


The TEC Model: “The Other Is Me” (and the Other is still the Other)

The educational model of the TEC Center was developed by three visionary women leading change in the Israeli educational system and representing three different sectors: Dr. Miri Sheinfeld, Dr. Elaine Hoter and Dr. Asma Ganaim. The model is designed to establish trust and relationships by cooperative learning in small multicultural groups (each group consists of six children from three different sectors), and is built on incremental progress: from online communication that ensures an equal platform for all, to an experiential face-to-face encounter. The children meet weekly throughout the school year, in a safe social network developed and constructed especially for the program, in order to generate a dialog on multicultural topics relevant to their lives and to introduce them to "The Other." The intimate encounter in the small group setting allows the formation of trust among the children. The apex of the cooperative learning process is the face-to-face meeting, when the children host their study partners at one of the participating schools. In order to implement the program and guide the children into a positive, educational dialog, the teachers are trained in cultural diversity and experience for themselves the process of getting to know the other and building trust with colleagues who teach in the other sectors. The TEC model is currently in the process of being integrated in several other countries, with the goal of promoting a multicultural dialog among children from different cultures.

During the cooperative learning, the students study the traditional texts of their heritage as well as the traditional texts of the children of other religions and cultures. They are introduced to the common denominators of the different religions on selected topics, such as the attitude to the other, to the elderly and to music in various groups, while taking a human and emotional view of the other and taking account of the differences and the similarities between them. The students learn to see the face of the other and to acknowledge that seeing the face of the other gives one the power to enrich oneself.

 

TEC’s Virtual Island

In order to deepen the TEC4SCHOOLS’ learning processes and strengthen the relevance of the message in the context of 21st century content, the Center has enlisted educators, designers and virtual reality experts to create an additional virtual learning space: "TEC Island," where the children meet one another as avatars and learn together about the different religions and cultures of Israel. Different games, structures, activities and educational contents focused on cultural diversity in Israel have all been assimilated into this space.

The program also includes a research component that indicates that the students' experiences in the program in the 2015-2016 school year have already led to a significant decrease in the students’ negative opinions regarding other cultural groups.