On May 28, the Mandel Leadership Institute hosted a festive book launch for Grades Aren’t Everything: Revamping Pedagogic Discourse by Prof. Anat Zohar, a faculty member at the Mandel Leadership Institute (MLI) and professor at the Hebrew University School of Education.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Eli Gottlieb (director of MLI) congratulated Prof. Zohar on her book, noting that it seeks ambitiously to make research and policy debates in educationaccessible to non-academics, and to connect discussions of educational reform in Israel with educational reforms studied around the world. To do so, it draws on Prof. Zohar's unique experience as an educational researcher who took a leave of absence from the academy for three years to serve as Chair of the Pedagagical Secretariat at Israel's Ministry of Education – where she led a major pedagogical and curricular reform. Following this experience, and prior to joining the MLI faculty, Prof. Zohar spent a year as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study at Princeton, where she began to connect her experiences as a policymaker with international research on educational reform. These experiences and reflections form the backbone of the book.
Participants watched a videotaped interview conducted by Prof. Zohar and Dr. Daniel Marom with Prof. David K. Cohen, John Dewey Collegiate Professor at the School of Education, University of Michigan, who is a leading expert on educational reform. The interview examined educational and pedagogical reforms implemented in the U.S. alongside reforms underway in Israel.
Following the interview, Shlomit Amichai, former director general of the Ministry of Education, delivered an address. She reviewed reforms carried out in Israel and outlined the preconditions for any effective implementation: establishing an educational discourse as opposed to a political one; long-term thinking and planning; and chiefly, mobilizing the support of all the relevant parties, including politicians, senior management at the Ministry of Education, academics, and of course, teachers and parents.
Prof. Anat Zohar, who spoke next, expressed the need to adopt an approach that views educational reform as a process of evolution rather than revolution — a process in which multiple factors are carefully coordinated, rather than activated top-down, short-term, and piecemeal. The program ended with an open-floor discussion and summary statements by the speakers.