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A New Window to the Educators' Path

Education  is a powerful tool, one which can affect great change, not only on the learning of an individual child, but on larger society as a whole. Through education it is possible to redress flaws in global society, creating a more peaceful environment and a better world for future generations. To achieve this ideal and to realize the true power of education, a new aspect of the educational path must be adopted.

Through my work with educators from developing countries, I am aware of the significant changes that are taking place within shared dimensional fields in education. Such changes have emerged over the past decade and include changes in teachers' knowledge, beliefs and attitudes; changes in how students engage with content; and changes in the relationship between students, teachers and parents.  Whilst those changes are making a substantial and immediate impact on the nature of education systems around the world, the greater potential, to use education to impact upon broader society, remains largely unfulfilled.

Such changes are related to shifts in pedagogical paradigms which constitute a prerequisite for creating a different atmosphere in the field of education and around the world. Educational literature highlights the importance of changing teachers' beliefs and attitudes in order to create long-term sustainable change. (Fullan, 1993)

In my experience, to affect real and profound change and thus realize the true power of education, one cannot simply introduce a new tool or practice. Life in the classroom must be reshaped completely and a new mood of empowerment must be introduced. To this end, the educator must adopt a new aspect. The new aspect is designed to not only strengthen the educational system, but also to empower both teachers and pupils to create positive and sustainable development across society as a whole and affect greater change in the world.

One of the core beliefs of the Aharon Ofri International Training Center is the need to reach out to educational processes worldwide, in their entirety and to introduce this new aspect. When undertaking such activity, careful consideration is given to the fact that each country is unique and each school undergoing a different process of changing educational paradigms.

The new aspect is comprised of three main concepts. I will introduce each in turn.

Firstly, the main component is that of listening. Listening and not talking, is the privileged role of the educator. It must not only extend to the children, but also include other teachers and the wider community. Listening is an art, and its power in education must not be underestimated. For the child that is listened to will learn more, and perhaps through the power of listening a small miracle will occur, empowering the pupil to affect change upon greater society as a whole.

Secondly, educators must lead by example. The quality of the education provided and its potential to affect positive change in the wider world is dependent upon each individual educator and is shaped by their unique personality and experiences.  The goal of the educator must be to realize the truth in his own personality and to convey this realization to the pupil. (Buber in Hodes 1972: 146) Consequently, educators must begin by looking at themselves. They must ask themselves what is truly important to them and examine and improve the way they act. Once this individual process has taken place, the individual must then broaden their horizons to include larger spheres of life and finally the greater world around us.

Viewing the educator as a leader is at the core of education. The educator must act as a leader in all spheres. There can be no true education focusing on human aspects if it is not supported by a holistic approach, based on our everyday life, work and creations. This holistic approach is the main reason why the educator should adopt a different behavioral pattern, one that we call stewardship. There are three principles that fall under the concept of stewardship; the principle of thought; the principle of speech and the principle of action. These principles are the tools which the educator must utilize in order to be an effective steward and change the educational environment.

Thirdly, in their role as stewards, educators must become lifelong learners. The idea of being a lifelong learner is attitudinal and refers to the ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge. After several years in an educational system, it is all too common to become passive, to lose the drive to question, explore and introduce new ideas to the educational process. However, the new approach demands that teachers, as modern educational leaders, constantly bring passion and creativity into their work, becoming a lifelong learner.

This new aspect is not dependent upon any specific syllabus, method or examinations, but is rather concerned directly with giving the pupil a sense of identity and responsibility in order to understand that they are part of an organic unity, (their community). They need to always examine their conscience and by this constant examination they can achieve freedom and the liberation of personality.

I believe that stepping on this kind of education path will have a huge impact on our present /future. However, it is imperative to remember that education is a responsibility shared by all. Consequently, the educator should receive support from the government, community and the family of the pupils.

The new aspect outlined above, should provide meaningful opportunities and educational processes for children so that they can embrace a sense of thoughtfulness and consideration for the whole of human existence. 

Yudith Rosenthal 
Director of the Aharon Ofri International Training Center