By Noah Drori –

Over the last four months we have taken on an initiative to understand how we can best support our students, teachers, and school leaders in learning and teaching about Israel. Our schools integrate teaching about Israel into their general studies and Hebrew language curricula as one of the many ways to help children connect the language they are learning, Modern Hebrew, to the people who speak this language. The Israel curriculum developed for HCSC is known as CHIIC (the Culture and History of Israel and its Immigrant Communities). A best practice in learning a new language includes being authentically exposed to the social, cultural, and historical aspects of its speakers. This global approach to learning provides students in our schools, in some cases beginning as early as Pre-K, a unique opportunity to learn about Israel in its fullness and complexity.

CHIIC borrows from and builds on the social studies standards of the states in which some of our schools are located (California, New York, New Jersey, as well as Washington, D.C.) and therefore allows the following two major overarching goals to be achieved:

  1. ‘Students will gain an understanding of their own country’s history, institutions and environments and the forces that have shaped world cultures specifically in Israel by studying the human condition in a comparative context of Israel and the U.S.’ (adapted from the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for Social Studies).
  2. ‘Students will learn to view contemporary problems facing the nation and the world as products of complex historical, institutional, and environmental processes, rather than as isolated events which lack deep meaning’ (adapted from theNew Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for Social Studies).

These overarching goals offer students a set of shared understandings about the U.S., Israel, and the world. This is the basis for our students to continue to grow and develop into critical thinkers who engage in dialogue about how to achieve democratic goals of justice, equality, and social progress.

The CHIIC curriculum provides our schools with an opportunity to apply social studies standards taught in the U.S. to Israel past and present. The following are the learning outcome goals this curriculum aims to achieve in conjunction with the standard social studies curriculum:

  • Culture of Israel: Israel is a country of immigrants like the U.S. Our students explore the countries of origin of Israel’s population just as they study the many different immigrant groups that have and continue to emigrate to the U.S. Students also study immigrant patterns across the world as they learn about the factors that motivate and impact immigration patterns throughout history.
  • Governance: All students will learn democratic citizenship and how to participate in the constitutional system of government of the U.S. and Israel.
  • History of Founding of Israel: All students will acquire historical understanding of political and societal ideas, forces, and institutions throughout the history of their local community, the U.S., Israel, and the world.
  • Economic: All students will acquire historical understanding of economic forces, ideas, and institutions throughout the history of their local community, the U.S., Israel, and the world.
  • Geographic: All students will acquire geographical understanding of Israel and the U.S. by studying patterns of migration and interaction with geographic elements.

This comparative historical, social, and cultural approach to learning about Israel and therefore enhancing the Hebrew language acquisition provides our students with an authentic approach to continue to be globally minded when learning and meeting others who are both similar and different to them.

Noah Drori is Manager of Israel Studies and Partnerships at HCSC. She can be reached at noah@hebrewcharters.org

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