In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Israel’s education minister writes that people who look to Israel’s education system to understand why his country is such a high-tech powerhouse are looking in the wrong place.
He names a culture of debate, peer-led youth organizations, and the army as institutions where Israeli young people learn entrepreneurship. He explains
Good teachers in vibrant classrooms are necessary for children—and nations—to succeed. Schools provide a base of literacy, mathematics and social interaction. But Israel’s extracurricular system goes further. Peer-led debate and intellectual dialogue enhances learning. Actual responsibilities, like caring for younger children, nurture growth and maturity. Real-life tasks show young adults how much they are capable of achieving. These are the principles that anyone wishing to replicate Israel’s success should emulate.
American kids are engaged in all manner of extra-curricular activities: Sports, music, theater, student council, cheerleading, volunteering, church activities, and on and on. If you are looking for sources of innovative thinking, leadership and teamwork skills, competitiveness, and creativity, aren’t these better candidates than math class?