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Israel School BeinerDemocratic School is part of the Sudbury system and its unique approach to education includes the complete freedom of students in grades K-12 to study whatever interests them.

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Students are also empowered to expel and suspend peers whose behaviors are deemed to not be in accordance with the school’s norms.

When the school was first established, it was under constant scrutiny by the government and faced numerous threats of closure. And yet, despite the reaction to this stark contrast to traditional education models, the school continued to grow and currently has a waiting list.

The Ministry of Education now supports the school’s efforts and Jerusalem’s mayor takes a particular interest in the program.

Ben Or, who is the sister of Stan Beiner, Head of The Epstein School, shared the key components of project-based learning, an area that Epstein has been exploring for the past two years.

“Students have to have complete choice of what they want to study along with access to mentorship,” Ben Or explained, “In addition, there must be structured feedback.”

Ben Or stressed that project-based learning places an emphasis on the type of skills that 21st century workplaces will require. The presentation generated much discussion on how The Epstein School could incorporate the ideas discussed to further enhance what is now being done. Stan Beiner shared:

“Years ago, the structure of the Democratic School seemed so different from what was happening at Epstein. With our school’s rapid transition to blended education, seamless technology, and a focus on student empowerment, the philosophy of the Democratic School no longer seems foreign at all. There is a lot in common and it was great to learn from an educator who has been employing project based learning for years.”

Ben Or is on a month long visit to the United States and is speaking at schools along the East Coast.

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