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What is Education Cities?
Prof. Yuli Tamr, Former Israeli Minister of Education
If Alvin Toffler describes three economic waves: Agrarian, Industrial and Informational, Education Cities see themselves as citizens of the fourth wave - the Knowledge wave. At the peak of this wave, most of the world’s population will make a living from creating new knowledge.
Education Cities believe that everyone, a kid or an adult, is one of a kind and brings to the world a unique package. They see the finding of one's uniqueness and expressing it, a vital component in establishing a healthy and prosperous society.
At the same time, the individual should see the uniqueness of the people around him/her, and the importance of expressing it as well.
The heart of "the art of collaborations" is creating a network of individuals who find and express their uniqueness while taking part in a shared creation:
All for one, and one for all.
In order to leverage the local story and use it to strengthen the city’s people, adults and children alike, one must harbor collaborations between the various active elements in the city. Every city, very much like every person, has unique areas of strength and multiple growth areas. A city successful in linking its strength and growth areas with that of its students and population as a whole will produce strategic and exceptionally meaningful growth engines.
Education Cities turn the city into one big school, by making collaborations between the first sector (formal and informal education, welfare, employment, city planning, engineering, etc.), the second sector (businesses), the third sector (non-profit organizations) and the fourth sector (social business organizations) that are active in the city.
One of the main tools for connecting between all the city's elements is the Educational/Urban Innovation Lab. The lab serves as a platform for nurturing and developing citywide collaborations. It tackles municipal challenges while empowering and supporting its individual participants which can be teachers, heads of teachers, leaders of the education system, representatives from various organizations, business representatives, artists, and every resident interested in taking part in tackling challenges.
In the past, all processes of change were cumbersome and lengthy because of the need for the state's approval. Today, a meaningful change can occurr in the world. A change that generates productive collaborations between the state (Ministry of Education) and local authorities. The center of gravity and control over education and other aspects of our lives is shifting from the hands of the state to the local authority. Mayors, municipal directors of education departments, and local entrepreneurs, are no longer required to wait for a lengthy and sluggish nationwide process, and have the mandate to implement innovative educational programs in their municipality and to promote innovative and groundbreaking education. Our challenge is how to make the most out of this extraordinary momentum and bring all our partners to seeing it as well.
Education Cities was founded by Yaacov Hecht, who also founded in Israel the first Democratic School in the world ever to use this name. After that he founded IDEC – International Democratic Education Conference that is taking place for 25 years, each year in a different continent, and includes more than 2000 schools from about 30 countries.
Education Cities believes that democratic education is the missing piece in the bigger puzzle called a democratic state. In the past, the education system gave out fish (transferred knowledge). At present, the education system is giving out fishing poles (teaching students how to study on their own). In the future, teachers and students should go out to fish together – developing learning and creating communities that will embark together on the journey for Tikun Olam (the Hebrew term for making the world a better place).Impact
Education Cities have had many successes. For example, in Bat Yam, an average-size city in the central part of Israel with a unique and complicated population composition, has for the past several decades, had a city education system in an underperforming condition. During Education Cities, the city built a unique program- "Bat-Yam program for personal education", that focused on personal and social skills and trained teachers in primary and middle school to adopt a humanistic approach in their classes. Over the last 8 years, the program has been implemented in almost every classroom in Bat-yam. The city started, step by step, to raise the average percent of entitlement to a high school diploma. In 2016, they reached the best national average percent.Scalability
Education City is not based on marketing or advertising; it is only growing as a result of successful fieldwork. There are now 15 education cities and regional councils in Israel, and it is continuously growing, because of the massive change from state's control to the hands of local authorities, and communities. Today, Mayors, heads of education departments, or involved and active parents can and are welcomed to influence and start groundbreaking programs such as Education City.