Parental involvement is currently in the limelight in Israel. The education research institution Mahut held the first national conference on parent-teacher relationships entitled “Intersecting perspectives and opening new horizons“. Parents International contributed by inspirations primary related to parental involvement and child participation as active citizenship. The event was a good opportunity to visit schools and teacher training centres as well to organise meetings with leaders of the national parent advocacy organisation.
The Mahut conference was organised with the goal of encouraging collaborations between scholars, practitioners, policy makers, students, who come from different disciplinary perspectives and/or methodological approaches but examine similar or related issues/topics in the field, and exploring assumptions and implications of parental involvement in pre-schools, elementary and high schools. In the opening session the Director General of the Ministry of Education, Shmuel Abuav made a clear statement that parental involvement is a highly important element in schools. Eyal Ben Jehuda Baum, the president of Forum of School Parents however highlighted that legislation does not yet reflect this priority. This is one of the areas where Parents International could offer expertise as well as research results to support them in fighting their case.
The majority of parent leaders at national level in Israel are currently lawyers, and it is an uncomfortable situation for many professional educators. It may be a good start, as the first step must be the necessary legislative framework, but there was mutual understanding that it also needs parallel actions to prepare both teachers in schools and parents for making involvement a reality not only a formal legal requirement as it is the case in many countries. Parents International offered multiplier trainings, too, to also foster this using previous experiences in other country contexts.
The largest chain of schools, AMIT invited us to their teacher training center GOGYA. It was primarily established to promote collaborative learning and new pedagogies, and they have recently realised how important it is to include parental involvement/engagement in their programme. They are doing an amazing job using traditional school buildings and transforming them with relatively little effort into 21st century learning spaces. We are exited to start a collaboration with them.
We also had the opportunity to prepare future collaboration in the North of Israel with the University of Haifa and some local municipalities and to visit a Kibbutz School near BeerSheva.
Probably the most interesting outcome of the visit is that Israel seems to suffer less from helicopter parenting that other countries, children are more independent and self-reliant, just like it was the case before in other countries. Probably a driving factor for this is compulsory military service. While for me it is sad to see hundreds of young people in uniform, it is good to see so many confident children and parents who let them grow up.