Israeli vs American Education. What Are The Differences?

It is this time of the year again that all parents need a vacation, there is this buzz of Kids that are going back to school after they were at home for two long summer months, the excitement of the first graders, the high schoolers go to see some of their friends that they didn’t see for a while, as they were on vacations somewhere in the country or abroad, all the exciting story, all the adventures, all the great energies of starting the new adventures of the new year.

Apart from the fact that the school year starts in the USA around the 15th -20th of August, and in Israel, it starts on September 1st every year (if there is no teacher’s strike – we’ll get to that shortly), is there any difference between the two countries on this subject?

Education in the United States is provided in public and private schools and by individuals through homeschooling. State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardized tests for K–12 public school systems and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges, and universities. The bulk of the $1.3 trillion in funding comes from state and local governments, with federal funding accounts for only about $200 billion. Private schools are free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities, although some state regulations can apply.

According to a 2016 report published by the U.S. News & World Report, of the top ten colleges and universities in the world, eight are American.

The United States spends more per student on education than any other country. In 2014, the Economist Intelligence Unit rated U.S. education as 14th best in the world.

In Israel, the education system consists of three tiers: primary education (grades 1–6, approximately ages 6–12), middle school (grades 7–9, approximately ages 12–15), and high school (grades 10–12, approximately ages 15–19). Compulsory education takes place from kindergarten through 12th grade. The school year begins on September 1 (September 2 if September 1 is on Saturday), ending for elementary school pupils on June 30 (June 29 if June 30 is on Saturday), and for middle school and high school pupils on June 20 (June 19 if June 20 is on Saturday). Haredi Yeshivas follow an independent schedule, starting on 1 Elul.

Israel’s populace is well educated and Israeli society highly values education. Education is a core value in Jewish culture and in Israeli society at large with many Israeli parents sacrificing their own personal comforts and financial resources to provide their children with the highest standards of education possible. Much of the Israeli Jewish population seek education as a passport to a decent white-collar professional job and a middle-class paycheck in the country’s competitive high-tech economy.

Israeli culture views higher education as the key to higher mobility and socioeconomic status in Israeli society.

According to the Webometrics ranking, six of Israel’s universities place in the top 100 schools in Asia. Four universities place in the top 150 in the world according to the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities, and three are in the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings (i.e. amongst the “Top 200 World Universities”)

In addition, Israeli universities are among 100 of the top world universities in science and engineering-related subjects, according to the QS World University Ranking

I raised my children in Israel so I can tell you, it is always an exciting time, beforehand we used to go buy all the notebooks and the different and interesting pens and pencils and the funny-shaped erasers,

While researching this subject on Google I found out that in the USA the children are chosen each year into different classes with different teachers, whilst in Israel, a kid goes to school with the same friends and colleagues from first grade till sixth grade, and throughout all remaining grades, which often gives them strong friendship ties with their age group and classmates.

When those same kids in Israel go to middle school they are mixed and mingled with kids from other schools and widen their childhood friends circle, which some stay as lifetime friends, I still have one that even though we are in separate countries we are still very well connected and are still best friends,

In high school again it’s a mix and match, usually by subjects that you want to concentrate in, science, social, IT, engineering, etc.

Schools all over the world are the place where the first contacts of a human being are formed and developed, with your peer group, as well as with adults, this is where you learn how to socialize, this is where you get the feedback on who you are or on who you are not, school is where our society is formed.

In Israel, there are bible lessons from second grade on, whether it’s a state-managed school or a religious school it really doesn’t matter, the bible and Jewish History, is part of the human heritage, in the Arab communities in Israel there are lessons of the Koran and Islam heritage and history, and in the Christian schools in Israel they teach the New Testament and Christian history, it doesn’t matter which school you belong to or go to, but some form of religious and heritage education is given to any child growing up in an Israeli school.

In Israel we do not only study about Israeli or Jewish/Muslim/Christian history, we study and learn about world history from prehistoric times till today.

All the ages, like Ice Age, or the Stone age, the middle ages, the modern ages, and modern times, the first world war, the second world war, the Russian revolution, Chinese communism, the Japanese empire, as well as the roman empire and also the British, Dutch and French colonies, yes we learn that in school and a lot more.

We go on field trips all over the country, where there are so many historical sites going back all the way to roman times, and stone age caves, this little country of Israel has so much history in it and so many cultures that are represented all over the country.

In the USA though from what I understand and what I found out, bible lessons are not part of the mandatory curriculum, but part of history lessons, world history is learned mainly in high school, and from kindergarten kids learn about the American society, political background like what it is to be a good American, a bit on human rights and from there on the subject is broadened and kids study the history of their country and later on the history of the world.

I emphasize history more then math because without the past there is no future.  The past is morals and values, it’s how society became what it is today, and we learn from the past about what is good and what needs to be changed. That is why the history of the world is important to all of us and not only the history of our country.

Schools are the most important part of any modern country, it takes care of the future of that country, whether it is Israel or the United States, or Russia or Ukraine the future is in the youth and the young generation of the countries which form our world.

Therefore, let us wish all the students of the world Good Luck on their new year in school, may you learn well, may you be educated by great teachers that will form you into brilliant leaders in the future. May you be blessed good friends, no bullies, and no violence offline and online, may you be successful and happy regardless of the shoe brand you wear, or the backpack you carry, or the phone you use, those are just material items that do not define you.

Concentrate on the growth of yourself and not what others think of you, school is a field of opportunities and not a battlefield.

Good Luck and Have a great year.

Remember what Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”