"Passing Through" a Western-Democratic Teacher Education: The Case of Israeli Arab Teachers
by Billie Eilam — 2002
The Israeli educational milieu contains two different cultures with separate educational systems: the Arab culture, distinguished by its traditional and collectivist orientation despite undergoing a process of modernization, and the Jewish Western-democratic, individualistic culture. This study describes a unique multiculturalistic phenomenon whereby Arab students, who have been educated in the context of the Arab family and school culture, “pass through” a Western-oriented teacher education program and then return to teach in their own culture. The study traces the development of awareness regarding the impact of cultural factors on education among several groups: Arab (and some Jewish) teacher trainees prior to, during, and after their university training; experienced Arab teachers working in the field; and Arab experts in education. The study focuses on the Arab teacher trainees’ ability to make sense of the knowledge presented in the training program, in light of their own prior knowledge and beliefs as well as other difficulties related to studying in a foreign language and unfamiliar style. Changes in the Arab teacher trainees’ beliefs and attitudes are traced as they construct bodies of knowledge along the path toward becoming teachers, and their notions of how the newly acquired knowledge can be applied in the Arab community are also investigated.
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