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Classrooms Without Borders

Recognizing that the arts contribute to social transformation by bridging communities, people and nations, Classrooms Without Borders is offering an Israel Study Seminar in July 2017 with a focus on Israeli Arts and Culture. 

Israeli art & culture constitutes a unique and special paradigm due to its diversity as well as the context of its development. Just short of 70 years of Independence, the modern state of Israel boasts a disproportionately high concentration of top quality cultural institutions and artists who have made their impact on the international scene. This achievement is remarkable given the environment in which it flourished. In 1948, Israel emerged as a new country that had to tackle huge challenges including the absorption of massive waves of immigration, major security concerns, an under-developed economy, political & cultural isolation by much of world and a need to forge one nation out of tens of different ethnic groups.

Nevertheless, the young country succeeded in fostering creativity in the fields of plastic arts & sculpture, graphic design, fashion, architecture, music, dance, literature, poetry, theater, film and most recently, cuisine. Educational institutions—secondary schools and universities, as well as informal learning frameworks, such as museums and government sponsored endowments spurred the emergence of a local artistic idiom.

In the years 1945-1960 Israel tripled its population. During that period, two distinct demographics arrived in the country – Holocaust survivors and immigrants from the Middle East. Each brought very different experiences to the table. The Survivors had endured something unprecedented in human history. Since they constituted 25% of the Israeli population by 1960, their influence on the cultural scene would resonate for a very long time and would focus on subjects emanating from their experiences. On the other hand, the Jews that arrived from Arab countries had to carve out a space within a dominant European (Jewish) milieu that often did not value or appreciate their "Eastern" cultural background. Similarly, each sub-grouping had its own distinct conventions, folkways and customs. It would take decades for their influence to become part of the mainstream. Ultimately, Israeli arts & culture became a fusion of "East and West".

Unique to Israeli art and culture is the interaction with, and assimilation of, the Israeli Arab population. The subjects that dominate their artistic vision are quite different from the Jewish majority although there is overlap, particularly with regards to questions of identity and their place in the Conflict. Israeli-Arab art developed simultaneously with the Israeli Jewish art, but in parallel and not in sync. In more recent years, there is a lot more interaction, cooperation, collaboration and fusion of art & culture among Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Classrooms Without Borders designs travel study seminars that exposes educators to foreign programs, schools and peer professionals. All seminars create opportunities for conversations and exchanges of ideas between American educators and their counterparts to engender creativity, knowledge and cross-fertilization of ideas. In addition, seminar participants become part of a community of educators, connecting and collaborating with each other, the people they meet abroad and the existing network of CWB seminar alumni.

The forthcoming Arts & Culture seminars to Israel have several aims:

  • To expose the participants to a variety of Israeli arts and culture that cover a diverse set of subjects
  • To learn about teaching strategies from different Israeli frameworks that can be replicated or utilized in the classrooms in the US
  • To interact with Israeli professional artists and learn from them
  • To discuss techniques, strategies and practices with their Israeli peers
  • To create personal and professional connections between the participants and their Israeli peers
  • To look at the ways Israeli institutions – schools, museums, etc. – integrate plastic and performing arts into their teaching & curriculum as a strategy to enhance general learning