Considering current political tensions and tendencies regarding the education system, we asked the Israeli general public questions that can reflect public opinion concerning some possible predispositions that stake holders should take into consideration. Especially regarding the role of teachers in a politically divided reality, the role of the education system in promoting education for democracy and a reflection about the inherent divisions in the system and the challenges they pose to society as a whole.
1. In your opinion, is it appropriate or inappropriate that teachers in high school should discuss with their students, current affairs that are the subject of public disagreement, such as the override clause or separation between men and women?
The general figure of about 61% of the entire sample, who think it is necessary to talk about these issues is impressive. It also corresponds with a study of parents' and teachers' attitudes on this topic done in 2016 by Prof. Iran Halperin in preparation for the Lautman 2016 conference.
An interesting figure is the relatively high percentage of Arab respondents who answered "don't know" to this question (20%).
However, the internal division in Jewish society reflects a more complex reality:
1. Clearly, the ultra-orthodox respondents do not think it is necessary to deal with current affairs that are subject to public controversy - not at all appropriate and not so appropriate (38% + 25%, respectively) - 63%.
2. The two populations in the survey that demonstrate a great willingness to engage in these conversations are:
Secular - 78% (very true + somewhat true)
National religious - 61% - (very true + somewhat true)
The survey does not ask about the reasons/motivation for this answer. The research on the subject shows that the perceptions regarding the possibility of teachers in different education sectors to deal with political and controversial issues are very different and the question of how they deal with them is central. For example, it is possible to deal with the override clause not as a subject of controversy but as something that is appropriate and correct. The same goes for gender segregation, which in some sectors is seen as a value rather than a controversial issue.
In your opinion, which of the following two possibilities is preferable? (Jews, Arabs)
This figure is particularly interesting in light of its relative uniformity -66.6%, and teaches that despite the inherent fragmentation in the education system, there is a desire to expand the circles of familiarity.
In your opinion, which of the following two possibilities is preferable? (Jews, Level of religiosity)
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
Education toward democratic values at a young age can help improve achievements in various subjects studied at school
Because Israel’s education system is based on division according to religiosity, nationality, and culture, it cannot help promote a shared narrative for all groups in Israeli society
On which of the following two areas would you like the education system to focus?
The answers clearly reflect that among Jews and Arabs, education for democratic values is as important as skills for the labor market, to which the Israeli education system devotes most of its resources. The research shows that the education for democratic values is marginal and neglected over the years, and this answer shows that there is importance in promoting education for democratic values in the eyes of the respondents.
The Survey was prepared by the Viterbi Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (supplements of groups that are not sufficiently represented on the network) from November 28 to December 01, 2022, 600 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 147 in Arabic, constituting a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and older. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was 3.59%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il