Dr. Shaul Feinberg Reports on Curriculum Studies Conference Co-sponsored by HUC-JIR

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Curriculum Studies: From Out Of Zion To The World, Tempere, Finland
Winter 2005-Spring/Summer 2006 - HUC-JIR; Beit Berl Academic College 

For more than two years, faculty and administration of the Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem have been engaged in programs for encouraging renewed interest in the field of curriculum studies, along with other institutions of higher education and the Ministry of Education. To this end, in February 2005, the College hosted a nationwide Colloqium, the first of its kind:Researching Curriculum Studies In Israel: Perspectives and Prospects. Beginning with this convocation, chaired by Rabbi Dr. Shaul R. Feinberg, momentum grew for additional opportunities to increase critical attention to the field; these included periodic Curriculum Forums-gatherings in different institutions throughout the country at which issues were presented, and deliberated. 

One question consistently addressed related to the degrees of collaboration amongst Schools of Education, Departments of Curriculum, with the Ministry of Education, teachers and administrators in the field. It is noteworthy that the initial Colloquium and these spirited Forums encouraged the holding of a second conference: Curriculum Planning In An Era Of Standardization. The leadership of the highly regarded Curriculum Studies Center of Beit Berl Academic Teachers' College, K'far Saba, agreed to host the conference. Members of the Academic and Steering Committees were drawn from a wide spectrum of institutions, including the Ministry of Education, exceeding in number and scope those which came together to conceptualize and implement the first Colloqium, 2005. Financial, logistical, academic, and professional cooperation were clearly evident in the extraordinary increase in participants who came to Beit Berl. Three hundred and twenty-five persons were present, more than three times those who attended the first Colloqium-Professors, teachers, school administrators, and senior echelon staff of the Ministry of Education . Chaired and co-chaired by Dr. Yael Shiloah, the School of Education, of Beit Berl, and Rabbi Shaul R. Feinberg, respectively, this conference set new standards for analyzing contemporary theoretical dimensions of the field-in-transition, as well as providing frameworks for showcasing cutting- edge programs and projects in schools, Universities and Colleges from a cross section of Israeli society. "Voices from the field," including the Jewish and Arab sectors, illustrated among other things the need for greater attention to the qualitative dimensions of Curriculum study and planning in an era of standardization

Addresses by the co-recipients of this year'sIsrael Prize for Education, Professors Chaim Adler, Hebrew University, and Miriam Ben Peretz Haifa University(a key note speaker at the 2005 Colloqium), enhanced the scope and prestige of this commemorative gathering, stimulating plans for a third conference, tentatively scheduled for 2007. (For those wishing more information about the Beit Berl Conference:www.beitberl.ac.il/curriculum_conf) [defunct] 

The International Association For the Advancement of Curriculum Studies, The Second Triennial World Curriculum Studies Conference, Tempere Finland, May 2006 

It is noteworthy that the Beit Berl Conference was held under the auspices of theIsrael Chapter of the International Association For the Advancement of Curriculum Studies, headed by Shaul R. Feinberg. At present there are nearly 30 colleagues who have chosen to affiliate with the Israel chapter of the IAACS which held its first World Conference, October 2003, in Shanghai, attended by Shaul Feinberg, a keynote speaker, and the only Israeli present! It is significant that the recent conference held in Tempere Finland included an Israeli delegation nine times larger that that which arrived in Shanghai. The qualitative measures by which such a gathering could be evaluated-diversity of curriculum studies in highly heterogeneous national, cultural and religious settings-were well complemented by the quantitative measure: over three hundred delegates from many of the twenty-five national and regional constituent bodies of the IAACS

This conference registered nearly a three fold increase over registration at the Shanghai conference! Though the vernacular was necessarily English, the mix of faces, complexions, dress, dialects, heritages and narratives illustrated blessed differences. Still a unifying theme was heard, loudly and clearly: greater mutual understanding through learning in an international key. Here "international" neither reflected nor aspired to degrees of educational imperialism or "globalization" but rather the development oftransnational expressions of curriculum studies. This emerges from what IAACS founder, and President, William Pinar calls complicated conversations. Professor Pinar (keynote speaker at the 2005 Colloqium) conceives in his research and teaching visions of the meeting of East and West, North and South through explorations of gifts of spirit, mind, and body. Continuous echoes of these kinds of engagements were heard in lecture halls and hallways of the Conference, and beyond, inspiring and expanding the transnational deliberations witnessed in Shanghai,three years ago. All look forward to 2009 and the Third World Conference of Curriculum Studies to be held at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. 

For those wishing more information about the International Association For the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and the Tempere Conference: http://www.aaacs.org/ Rabbi Shaul(Paul) R. Feinberg, PhD August, 2006, Elul 5766 Hebrew Union College Jerusalem 


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