Broken Bell Education in Israel - Ramblings of an ex-teacher

Broken bell classroom
Broken bell classroom

Kick 'em in the back, kick 'em in the knee, bring it on teachers, educate me!  Oh come on educators, "let's give it the old college try!"  Sorry, too much to ask?  Well then, drag yourself to work and just get through the day without too much aggravation and insult. Underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, the list goes on.  Rallying teachers today is like cheering on the home team in the face of a losing season; no matter the opponent, failure is inevitable.  It's not only because your talent pool is limited, as a result of insufficient funds to acquire better players; or the fact that your equipment is sub par.  It goes much deeper than that.  Your leadership has lost all vision of what it takes to win, to achieve success.

Let's face it.  It's becoming increasingly difficult for educated professionals to motivate themselves when the profession of teaching in Israel has been systematically devalued overtime.  This week we have a guest writer who decided enough is enough.

Together I hope we can find ways to get Israel's educational priorities back on track. Your comments help. If you have a more detailed idea that you want to present - be my guest and join me as a guest author. You can always contact me at ]]> .

The Ramblings of an Ex-Teacher

For a few years, I had been toying with the idea of leaving the teaching profession. The reasons are not difficult to understand, even as a respected and professional teacher, with fifteen years under my belt. However, as the years went on, it became easier to stay where I was and bemoan the usual lack of resources, compensation, social status and everything else that is the baggage of being a teacher.

So what gave me the final push….

Well, believe it or not, it was a casual remark thrown out by my partner. "You'll never do it," which set my wheels turning. After a couple of months of scouring the wanted ads, I had more job options and offers than I had expected.

It was extremely difficult to adjust to the first few weeks at an office job. On the first couple of mornings, I left the house and stopped halfway down the path, with the feeling that I had left something behind. It was strange to have swapped my heavy backpack and plastic bags for my compact little handbag. At work, I actually had my own desk, computer and drawers. And the quiet…Nobody ever dropped by and interrupted your work without previously asking or requesting to meet. There were other small things which I am quite embarrassed to mention, but here goes anyway. I never need to worry about whether I can drink another cup of coffee, because I will be able to take a break anytime to pee. And, of course, the coffee, milk and sugar (teaspoons and cups) never run out. Lunch is a hot meal, provided by the employer and you are encouraged to take that break and not work through. On the down-side, I had to adjust to longer working hours and I will not be getting all those vacation days.

Sometimes I ask myself if it is really that easy. Will I regret my decision sometime along the way? What are the things I will miss? Will it be the interaction with my students or the sense that I was doing something noble and important?

During the seemingly endless teachers' strike, I was hopeful that the education system would come out strengthened from the strike. I'm afraid that if anything the strike deepened my convictions that education is just not on our society's agenda in Israel. Just as environmental issues get lip-service, so no-one really cares about the students or the teachers. This effectively means that no-one really cares about our future. Neither the leadership of the country nor the teachers' union showed any leadership qualities. Both were more concerned about saying: We won! (What does that remind you of?)

It is blatantly obvious that something needs to be done to revolutionize the system, but sadly no-one has the power, charisma or enough will to really make it happen. It is not just about raising teachers' salaries. Like so many other things in this country, things will have to get much worse, fall apart totally, before anyone sits up and takes notice. I hope it will not be too late! I say this sadly as an ex-teacher and as a parent of young children still in the system.

It certainly is ironic for me as a "new immigrant" to observe that for Jews in other places in the world, education is an all-important, top-of-the-list priority. Given that, Israel should boast the best system in the world!

I am sure that the government and Ministry of Education will not be able to make any headway in educational reform after losing the trust of the teachers so badly. I can only hope that the teachers will elect a powerful, responsible and dynamic leadership that has the integrity, values and charisma to rebuild the self-esteem and public image of teachers in this country. There are so many who are worthy of it. Only from a position of strength can teachers be willing and motivated to engage in any meaningful educational reform.

5 comment

Ruth5 year, 8 month ago

Well you did it after 15 years.Unfortunately for those of us with 20 or more years' teaching experience we are too old to make the change. wE are stuck in the system until they let us escape. Also I personally feel too old to start somewhere new now, but good for you ...

Richard5 year, 8 month ago


Hey, So are you pleased or dismayed?

Shira5 year, 8 month ago

Ruth, I agree that it is much more difficult to leave after a certain point. For this reason, I think that any reform to the education system has to lower the early pension age option for teachers. This will encourage more teachers to feel that they have a realistic option of leaving before they burn-out completely, as well as ensuring that the system doesn't have to keep teachers for sometimes over a decade after they are clearly burned-out.

elephant (Svi Ben-Elya)5 year, 8 month ago

Ruth, I am not a teacher but I think your idea is one of the best and probably easiest ways to improve the system. As parents and before that as students we've all known teachers who are so burned out that they do more harm than good educationally and would probably love to do something else, but feel locked into the system.

I really hope that somebody in a position to do something reads your comment.

Shira5 year, 8 month ago

Hi Richard,

I still have very mixed feelings at this point. Being practical, on the one hand, I see it as a real opportunity to develop a new direction and new career. On the other hand, it is not easy to make a change and break ties with something that I lived, breathed and was so much a part of me for so long. Only time will tell, I guess.