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School and Family: Teacher-Parent Relations in a Changing Environment

The expert committee, chaired by Prof. (Emeritus) Zipora Shechtman of the University of Haifa, was created in response to a request by the Ministry of Education, made against a background of the social and technological changes taking place today. The committee was asked to provide answers to the question of what can be learned from research and practice about teacher-parent relations that will contribute to the development of today's adolescents. The committee began its activities in May 2013; the document summarizing its work is expected to be ready in the summer of 2015.

The 21st century has ushered in many changes. One of the main characteristics of these changes is the blurring of boundaries: Boundaries between social frameworks (home and work, family and school, virtual and actual friendships) and boundaries between roles (parent and teacher, child and adult). There is an accelerated pace of change in the information age and technological changes have given rise to cultural changes and created new needs, different expectations and unconventional challenges. Concepts such as availability, immediacy and updating have become central to society and in their wake, educational dilemmas have arisen with which society in general, and educators, in particular, are coping. Technologies which have become accessible to the public at large have created changes in the structure of the labor market, family life and in social and civic functioning. These developments have motivated educational systems located in different places to redefine their role in light of the skills needed by 21st century graduates. It appears that alongside the aspiration to impart suitable knowledge and diverse skills which will endow the graduate with the capabilities for flexibility in a changing environment, the importance of resilience and social skills are being stressed more and more since it has been shown that they also affect cognitive development.
The connection between emotional and cognitive dimensions, as well as the cultural and technological changes that have been taking place in recent years, reinforce the need for a new conception regarding the reciprocal relationship between school and family and of the role each one plays in the process of children's development. The Ministry of Education administration is interested in learning more about the connection between school and family and between teachers and parents in light of the cultural and technological changes we are experiencing, and in proposing tools that will help schools maintain optimal relations with families - relations that will contribute to children's emotional and cognitive development. These considerations led the Ministry of Education to turn to the Israel Academy of Sciences so that it would establish a committee to study the topic and submit its recommendations to its administration.

The committee will place the question of teacher-parent relations within the broader context of the division of responsibility between the family and the school and will discuss the school's role and authority in an era of instability and accelerated social change. The committee will study examples of policy and intervention programs on the subject of teacher-parent relations, which research has demonstrated to be useful, and will consider their significance for the Israeli context. The committee will also gather information on practice in the field in Israel and will review the various methodologies employed by different schools.

An earlier committee established by the Initiative – the Committee to Study School-Parent Relations during Early Childhood – laid the knowledge groundwork that will serve as the basis for this committee to begin its work. The present committee will seek to focus upon questions relevant to post-primary schools. Its work will also focus upon the impact of technological developments on teacher-parent relations, such as existing and potential uses of electronic communication between teachers and parents and students, and the impact of social media. It will examine these questions from various perspectives – psychological, pedagogical, social, organizational, and legal. In the coming months, the committee will define the framework and topics of discussion and begin examining research and practice.

For further information, contact the committee coordinator via email:
Mr. Oded Busharian, coordinator: oded.education@academy.ac.il
Or, via telephone: +972-2-622-1582

 




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