The Israeli Kibbutz: Education

Figure 1.-- The photo was taken in the early-1950s in the school of Givat Brenner kibbutz located in central Israel. in the Center District of Israel. The children are listening music from a record player as part of a music appreciation lesson. It was founded (1928), named after writer Yosef Haim Brenner, killed by an Arab mob in the anti-Jewish Jaffa riots (1921). It is today one of the largest kibbutzim in Israel.

No religion has placed a greater importance on education that Judaism. It is surely the reason that this relatively small group located in the most heavily contended spot on earth have survived for milenia even after defeat by some of the most powerful empires in history and then in a diaspora in which they became a despised minority in the Christian and MUslim societies. Jews were expected to provide for the educatgion of their children wih included reading a studying the Torah. This meant literacy was required , even in societies in which only a smll number of people were literate. Zionism had two fonding traditions. One was was religious--varius threads of Judaism. The other was socialism which was not favorably disposed toward Judaism. While rejecting or a least initerested in theology, the socialists who were the driving force in the Kibbutz Movement continued the Jewish focus on education. Not only did they see education as as important, but they had some rafical ideasabour the education to be provided the children of the kibbuz. Here there were variationb from kibbutz to kibbutz, but many common themes. The approach as communal education. The kibbutz communication took responsibility for both child care and education. Each child would get 12 years of education of the same quality and the parents would have no impact on that education. This continue throufgh the 1980s when Isrealis began to reassess their education system. The education nd child care system was essentially merged. Contact with parents were limited to 2-3 hours at the end of he day and did not affect resources allocated to the children. The governing elements were first communal responsibility and second equality. Every child received the same share of everything produced at the kibbutz. Parents had no economic role in raising their own children. The chilkdren lived in the Children's house. Here their care takers coordinated closely with their teachers and workplace foremen. Work was a part of their education. At first this meant field work. But as kibbutzes developmed, a wide ramge of businesses were founded. At first these were food related industries, but over time industries that had no relation to agricultre. This work experiences could be quite varied. European Jews came from countries with highly selective education systems. As a part of the socialist ethic, equality and a rejection of selectivity became central to kibbutz education. Every child receive basically the same 12 years of education. The children were not given tests or grades. Assigned work responsibilities were an important part of the educational expoerience. Just as the Soviet Union was seeking to create the Soviet Man, Israeli kibbutzes were seeking to create their own utopian vision of the New Man, but without the violence and repression of the Soviet state. [Gavron, p. 157.]


Gavron, D. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).


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Created: 8:39 AM 10/12/2015
Last updated: 8:39 AM 10/12/2015