The sixth session of the Mandel Graduate Unit's roundtable on technological education hosted Yoel Rothschild, head of ORT Israel’s R&D and Training Administration, and an expert on educational innovation in the subjects of science, engineering, and technology, and in computerized pedagogy. The meeting focused on the current and future challenges of science and technology education, an area that Rothschild considers “an intellectual training environment” that includes values, which should be developed from a young age and made accessible to all students. Rothschild believes that technological literacy should be the birthright of all students and not just the gifted among them, and that computational thinking is an essential tool for the future world of learning and employment that should be taught to everyone.
Rothschild criticized the widespread tendency of schools to concentrate on specialized study tracks designed to reach the level of professional training. He called for tracks to be combined so that there is interdisciplinary education, because the future, he argues, will demand thinking that draws on multiple disciplines rather than in-depth knowledge of a single area. In order to make schools more relevant, he argued, we need to stop focusing on transmitting knowledge, which in any case becomes outdated rapidly, and instead to define the needs and challenges students will face in 10–15 years’ time and address those needs in the curriculum.
According to Rothschild, the school of the future should teach only a few core subjects, and should provide science and technology learning in an environment such as i-STEAM (innovation, science, engineering, arts, and mathematics). The pedagogical components in the areas of science, technology, and engineering will include advanced digital environments, as well as environments that foster innovation. In this context, he mentioned as an example the “Makerspace” concept as an experimental environment full of opportunities for making things via direct contact with materials, problem solving, and creating products. Rothschild emphasized that this kind of environment needs to be planned and implemented to the highest standards, and has the inherent capacity for making schools more relevant. He noted that the greatest crisis experienced by students of science and technology occurs during middle school, and strongly encouraged the participants to take it upon themselves to begin making changes in this field for that age group.
The session was attended by several graduates of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership: Dr. Gideon Kaplan, former director of the Regional Technological Center at the Beer Sheva municipal education administration, and who works in developing and teaching science and technology subjects; Dr. Amir Barnea, a member of the Science and Technology Center at the Carasso Science Park in Beer Sheva; Iris Wolf, Chief Pedagogical Officer at World ORT Kadima Mada; and Ofer Yichye, principal of the ORT Zur Barak high school.
The Technological Education roundtable is coordinated by Rakefet Mossek, consultations manager at the Mandel Graduate Unit. The next session will be held on February 21, 2018 at OpenValley in Caesarea – an entrepreneurial incubator based on collaborations between entrepreneurs and companies from diverse fields.