"Curriculum Studies in Israel: Perspectives and Prospects"
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem hosted a colloquium on February 23, entitled "Curriculum Studies in Israel: Perspectives and Prospects", under the auspices of the Israel Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The academic gathering was supported by HUC; The Kelman Center for Jewish Education; Faculty of Education, University of Haifa; The Pinchas Churgin School of Education; Bar-Ilan University; The Department of Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; The Melton Center for Jewish Education; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; The Department of Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency of Israel; The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. The Colloquium Organizing Committee was chaired by Rabbi Dr. Shaul R. Feinberg, Associate Dean of HUC, and Jerusalem. Lecturers and moderators were drawn from senior faculty members of the supporting institutions and the Ministry of Education.
The initial motivation for the Colloquium, came from Rabbi Shaul Feinberg's determination to continue the dialogue begun at The First World Conference for Curriculum Studies, which he attended in Shanghai, China in October 2003. The co-chair of that conference was Professor William Pinar, founder of both the American and the International Association of Curriculum Studies, with more than 35 chapters worldwide.
An invitation was extended to Professor Pinar to keynote this conference and to serve as scholar in residence. His academic and organizational vision for the exploration and advancement of curriculum research set the tone for the Colloquium.
The Colloquium was attended by one hundred participants. The morning session, in the HUC Murstein Synagogue, opened with greetings from Professor David Ellenson, President of HUC, Rabbi Michael Marmur, Dean of HUC, Jerusalem, and Dr. Shaul R. Feinberg.
The Colloquium engaged scholars, students and other professionals in lively and critical deliberation on the impact of research in both general and Jewish education on conceptualizing and writing of curriculum. Parallel English and Hebrew afternoon sessions focused on a range of topics: From the Curriculum to Classroom Teaching by Dr. Asher Shkedi; Qualitative Inquiry and the Limits of Knowledge by Rabbi Prof. Hanan Alexander; Teaching About Curriculum-Questions, Problems and Concerns: The Impact of Research, by Prof. Miriam Ben-Peretz; A Model for Curriculum in Jewish Education by Prof. Michael Rosenak. Professor Pinar's addresses, Complicated Conversations: Occasions for 'Intellectual Breakthrough' in the Internationalization of Curriculum Studies and Study, Not Instruction: Shifting the Site of Curriculum Reform.
William Pinar teaches curriculum theory at Lousiana State University, where he serves as the St. Bernard Parish Alumni Endowed Professor. His curriculum theorizing spans categories race, gender and politics; these were initially reflected in his leading work among the pioneer founders of the Reconceptualist Curriculum Movement in the 1970's and continuing to this day. This was Professor Pinar's first trip to Israel, which provided additional opportunities for specially arranged lectures in his honor at Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University.
In addition, Professor Yaakov Katz, Head of the Education's Ministry, Pedagogical Secretariat and faculty member at Bar Ilan University, addressed the morning plenum: Curriculum Studies Today: The University, Society and the School. In his presentation, he related to aspects of the Dovrat Commission's findings and recommendations for far reaching change and reform of the educational system. His remarks drew spirited reactions from respondents and the plenum.
There was wide consensus among the participants that the Colloquium was an important first step to increasing the momentum and awareness for research and consultations in Curriculum Studies. Many persons present as well as those not able to attend, formally registered their willingness to take an active part in planning for and participating in on going curriculum consultations for sharing research as well as works in progress. High on the agenda is to encourage participation by Israeli scholars at the next International Conference to take place in Finland in 2006.