April 02, 2017
Having the enormous responsibility of organizing the conclusions of our group after such an enriching experience, was challenging at the beginning. After so many amazing experiences, it was confusing to determine what was more important, both in professional and life terms. But if there is a huge lesson that Israel thought us, is that we should be eager to make new mistakes each time… so here we try, here we go!. 

From our cultural experience, we can say that Israel is a small country that at first glance stands out for the greatness of their people and their sense of cultural pride, led by the roots of the Jewish culture. We were able to feel the solidarity and mutual aid between Israel and the Jewish community around the world, for some of us thinking of us it was surprising to see the importance they pay to remembering and studying their history starting millennials ago. 

When our trainers told us that they don´t have as many natural resources as some of our countries do, we were impressed to see how people in Israel are able to turn many good ideas into multi-million dollar company, making the nick name of “Start Up Nation”. It could not be possible without the importance they pay to education, besides the resources challenge they have been able to move forward as a nation, being able to respect their religious and cultural differences. From our perspective they set us many examples of how agreeing to disagree under the basis of mutual respect but having a common goal in mind, the goal of building a common nation were many more generations could enjoy their legacy. From the perspective of science, especially in Biology, having diversity is crucial to have opportunities when a changing environment comes. The abundance of religions, and political views, and ideas, is key. During our time in Jerusalem seeing how close a Synagogue, a Christian church and a Mosque were located, was astonishing. 

From the professional perspective, we were so impressed with the professional visits, for example Professional tours to Eshkol center, schools which are centers of excellence (ORT Melton & Dekel High School) and education for sustainable development (ESD)—the Alona School were very enlightening. There was evidence of students’ involvement in trying out idea, project-based learning and inquiry based learning. The participation of alumni students on military service was evident and served as motivating factor in those schools. From this experience, we could be able to mobilize ex-students in schools to support their previous schools, having ex-alumni so committed to help their community is an evidence of the belonging sense we experienced. In all these visits, teachers, and students showed us different perspectives of the STEM learning and teaching.

In addition, as educators in the 21´s century it is so important to comprehend the impact of environmental sustainability for our students. Therefore, two professional visits provided us the opportunity to reflect on our impact in the planet as educational communities. Seeing students that felt confident about their learning process, was impressive. We went to the Ecological Green house; it was so exciting to see how the research in sciences may lead to create a real impact in the community in order to guarantee food sustainability. We were eager to walk around because students were going in and out freely, it was so inspiring to see how confident they felt about researching, failing and innovating. Then we went to a primary school that emphasizes on Education for Sustainable Development towards bird conservation; we were fascinated by seeing kids interacting with nature with complete knowledge of their impact as makers/consumers and their critical reflections. It was an excellent example of the link between EDS, providing reflection tools and STEAM, providing practical tools to solve a problem into a real context.

Moreover, during the hands on sessions we had the opportunity to try different approaches like escape rooms, robotics, Makers education and science & creativity. These sessions were not theoretical, but they gave us direct experience to work on various activities. The techniques were novel and one can replicate them in classroom environment. These sessions gave us a chance to design and execute our own ideas into practice, for us as educators experiencing being students into the inquiry activities, was refreshing. Every once in a while, you need a reminder of how it feels to be on the other side of the equation. 

In addition, during the program we were able to experience some ICT tools in the classroom in our session. First was the introduction of QR quote as an easy way to share content, following with Kahoot, an interactive way to conduct multiple-choice questions with gamification element. The class love the competition that Kahoot provide. Lastly, Edmondo was introduced as a platform for the whole class to share lesson content and discussion. In our school visit, we also observed that ICT has been widely adapted in Israeli classroom. All the high school that we visited provided course in computer science where students learn programing language and apply in practical project such as web development. In Alona elementary school, students starting to learn using Words to complete writing assignment and using online Math games to nurture love of math. From our reflection, we agreed on the importance of seeing all the extensive variety of ICT tools that may be used to address the STEM learning.

Additionally, we saw how the educational system was so structured, it had institutional stability and having a trust atmosphere was important to build a country. Every kid has talents and we were able to experience differentiation as an educational concept, in every school through their optional programs, tutoring sessions, and given time to explore. We felt empowered to see real examples of STEM, and other approaches like iSTEAM and STEAM. What is more, we were enthusiastic of exploring the topic of gender gap in STEM, and then discussing solutions that were useful for our contexts. Assisting to the Edtech summit, shaping the future, from schooling to learning in Tel Aviv, was the cherry on the cake. We were speechless by having the founder and CEO of Moodle in front of us, and then thinking of the future role of teachers when robots arrive to the classrooms… it definitely blew our mind. 

As representatives from 23 people coming from 15 different developing countries, we would like to thank the MASHAV program for this meaningful opportunity, now we have new ideas, now we have seen new solutions, and we cannot wait to be agents of change in our countries. We know that with great “knowledge” comes great responsibility, and we are committed to spread these good news and to implement as many ideas as possible. Words cannot express how thankful we are to Mr. Damian Filut, our tutor, our guide, someone who looked after us, who was committed to help us, and to encourage us to make the most out of this experience. 

All things considered, Israel is a country based on resiliency as a key to succeed and innovate. Innovation is there in the genes of Israelis, and in their educational system. They do not just talk theoretically but really put the activities into practice. The key to this approach is they are ready to accept the mistakes and consider their mistakes as a learning opportunity. They say, ‘if everything goes well then there is no way in which we can move ahead’. We think this attitude makes their existence unique.

Given this points, we must say that the closure session was emotive, we were sad to say good-bye but so thankful after this wonderful three weeks. Our contexts may differ in some aspects, but we leave this country, this nation of Israel, recharged of motivation by seeing how others are able to overcome their obstacles. With all this inspirational ideas, we want to come back to our countries to see the power of silent revolutions, of small changes made by people who are full of dreams… those educational dreams of a worldwide society with equity.

"People often avoid making decisions out of fear of making a mistake. Actually the failure to make decisions is one of life's biggest mistakes."   Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

Submitted by:
Nguyen Trung (Vietnam); Tom Okaya (Kenia); Tin Thein (Myanmar); Hemant Lagvankar (India); Claudia Marin (Colombia)