The Next Generation of Learning
By Joy Banbury, The Jerusalem Post
The AMIT network of schools has been at the top of educational achievements on a nationwide scale recently. This summer, AMIT was ranked the educational network with the highest achievements, according to the indexes set by the Education Ministry. AMIT received the highest score in three of the ministry’s seven main indexes: Excellence, quality bagrut-meaning the proportion of students who studied five units of math and English, and the overall rate of matriculation eligibility. It scored extremely high in three other indexes as well: inclusion, meaningful army/national service, and preventing student dropout.
But similar to the well-known disclaimer “post results do not guarantee future performance; Dr. Amnon Eldar, director-general of AMIT, says that the countrywide network of schools understands that the future of learning won’t be anything like what it once was, and there is a constant need to keep making the learning experience more applicable for both the students and teachers of tomorrow.
Children can no longer be stuck in the classic box-shaped classrooms, which have a history all the way back to the beginning of formal education. What’s more, having an educational approach that is meant to be applied the same way for every student isn’t appropriate in today’s age of personalization. Students of the 21st century have access to much more knowledge than their previous-century counterparts. And these are just some of the differences. In this digital age, more and more aspects of the classic educational approach will need to be changed with each class that enters AMIT’s 55 high schools on a yearly basis.
“For example, frontal teaching in today’s age just doesn’t work anymore,” Eldar says. “The pupils can access a whole world of information through Google on their smart phones. The teachers need to be a guide, a facilitator in the classroom.”
It’s not an easy change, the head of AMIT says. It requires that the teachers acquire a different set of skills, in a sense to almost completely “reinvent” themselves by transitioning from the role of knowledge provider to learning facilitator who helps students process, evaluate and use the knowledge that is abundantly available to them via the Internet.
“We want to change the perception of studies according to the needs of students in the 21st century,” he says.
So much so, that Eldar says the term “school” will be a misconception.
“We’re turning our schools into ‘educational learning communities’ which are devoted to empowering, creating and initiating.”
One of the main objectives is to help the students acquire a set of analytical tools so that they will know what to do with the flood of information that’s available at the swipe of their fingers.
But in order for this revolution to take effect, the network has to know how to harness the best people for management and teaching, and to understand how to invest in every principal’s, teacher’s and student’s personal, professional and educational development processes.
This is where AMIT Gogya enters the picture. The AMIT network is implementing an innovative educational approach that it has developed in recent years. Named Gogya, from the Hebrew word for pedagogy—”pedagogia”—it includes the Gogya teacher training center established in 2015 on the AMIT Kfar Batya campus in Ra’anana, as well as a staff-led process instituted in the network’s many schools, in which an R & D team of teachers develops and implements the educational innovation that best fits each school. This work is done in close cooperation with an AMIT Cultural Change Mentor, who accompanies the schools in their efforts to clarify, lead and assimilate a significant and holistic change in the school and community to which it belongs.
In essence, the AMIT Gogya Center is a replica of the school of the future where all those involved in education can begin to understand the nuances of innovative learning, such as teaching in open spaces instead of enclosed classrooms, how teachers can work collaboratively, and how to maximize student-led research. Furniture in the open “classrooms” is easily adjustable to suit various educational methods, there is no longer a set time for how long lessons should be, and classes need not be just one subject but can be as expansive as necessary in order for the students to understand the full breadth of the subject.
“We are constantly investing in our teachers. They are the human capital that can most effectively motivate students and transform the learning experience,” Eldar says. “For the teachers, the tools they are given ensure that they believe in each student, professionalize their teaching methodologies, and personalize the learning experience of each child.”
The revolution taking place at AMIT is not limited to its schools in well-off areas in the center of the country. A full 70% of AMIT schools are located in Israel’s geographical and socioeconomic periphery, and Eldar says that the network is fully committed to achieving the same top results across the board.
“The students in the periphery are just as capable, but often do not have access to the same top-level teachers, equipment, and tutoring hours available in central Israel. All they need is a jumpstart to get them going.”
One example, Eldar says, is encouraging students in the periphery to study English, math or other demanding subjects at the five-unit level. In the past, it could have been that only a small number or students was interested and as a result it wasn’t financially viable to have a top-level class. Now, Eldar says, there are no minimums and varied levels can simultaneously learn in the same classroom with multiple curricula being offered. Thanks to AMIT’S Gogya methodology, learning can be tailored even in a diverse classroom. The exposure that students have to highest level studies can motivate and encourage additional pupils to aim higher.
“What characterizes our teachers is their ability to see the individual,” Eldar says. “For the teachers. it’s not just another student. They care about every individual and they invest in every individual.
“The thousands of teachers and principals in the AMIT network are the ones who are bringing about this revolution.”
Reprinted courtesy of the Jerusalem Post