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Go excel / Dr. Liat Ben David

Against the background of the recent publications, according to which the percentage of students approaching graduation in exact science subjects is at an all-time low, Dr. Liat Bendod, CEO of the Wolf Foundation, offers possible solutions to the issue of fostering excellence

Dr. Liat Ben-David, CEO of the Wolf Foundation
Dr. Liat Ben-David, CEO of the Wolf Foundation

It was recently announced that only a tiny percentage of the students who excelled in science in middle school choose to take extended matriculation exams in three fields of science (5 credits in mathematics, 5 credits in physics and 5 credits in one of the other sciences, such as biology or chemistry).


"The Ministry of Education has failed to foster excellence in science!" cried the headline, and the article added statistical findings about our dismal situation, with the obvious threat that if we do not do something, "Israel may lose its relative advantage, if targeted and planned treatment is not done in the early stages of education." Talkbacks raging against the Ministry of Education, the teachers, the left, the right, the Ashkenazim, the residents of Gush Dan, and more and more were not long in coming.

How easy and acceptable to criticize, go against and get angry. But the intelligent reader, who pauses for a moment to think about what the data really tested, can't help but ponder, like the subtle poet's essay (the blunt one says it differently) - what's the point of a needle in a haystack?
Because many, different and very complex factors influence a student's choice of what to test. Suffice it to mention psychological, family and social factors, such as - what do the guys choose? What will they say about me? What do mom and dad say? What does the cultural code I belong to really expect from me? And how does it fit in with other things I'm interested in as a teenager? Ask yourself honestly: how many of us really chose their matriculation subjects based on the areas in which we excelled in the lower grades? How many of us chose the continuation of their academic studies according to their areas of excellence in the matriculation exams?

This does not mean that it is not important to excel, on the contrary. But the distinction is not an achievement of this or that grade. Excellence is a value that outlines behavior, in practice, in everyday life, in any field. That is why it is not surprising to find world-renowned artists who in their childhood excelled in mathematics, famous writers who excelled in logical thinking, scientists who won the Wolf Prize who also excelled in music, and more. Because their excellence is not measured by grades. It is a worldview. And if it is a worldview, it outlines the way in which you deal with any field.


Many studies prove that along with the gradual, developing and in-depth education, there are formative experiences in the lives of each of us, often one-time or short in duration, that strongly influence our decisions. A significant adult - a teacher, a parent, a traffic guide, a commander - or a generative event - a journey, a meeting, even a book or a movie - have a critical influence on the path we choose to take at different life junctures. Cultivating excellence, in the sciences and in any other field, depends on locating, diagnosing and strengthening the factors that influence our decision-making processes and our strategic ability - as parents, as an educational system and as a value society - to be significant adults and create generative experiences that outline the path for both us and our children.

The formal educational system faces the constant need to create a delicate balance between fostering education and excellence for all, and fostering excellence in specific areas of thought. In recent years we have witnessed a resurgence in the education system's investment in fostering excellence. Through various programs, the education system tries to create an attraction to areas of thought that it wishes to promote. This attraction must be continuous, continuous, throughout all parts of the system - from early childhood to the doctorate, accompanied by resources but above all - stable over time. Changing direction in an educational system requires time and patience, two key components that are missing both in the political system that leads the country's educational strategy and in the media system that criticizes it. It must be remembered that we will only be able to begin examining the consequences of the new programs for fostering excellence in a few years. In light of the political frenzy we are witnessing these days and in the run-up to the upcoming elections, it is to be hoped that despite the expected changes, the world view that sees investment in excellence as a leading value of the State of Israel will not change.

The author is the CEO of the Wolf Foundation. which this week awards the 'Wolf Prize' in science - Among the 2012 Wolf Prize winners: Prof. Jacob Bekenstein from the Hebrew University and Maestro Placido Domingo

4 תגובות

  1. Brilliant, excellent, I created, forward vision!!!!! Well done, does the author have more articles?????

  2. An article suitable for a minister of education or who wants to be one.
    A salad of politics, stories, opinions and tastes.
    is nothing.

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