Rich Walter of the Center for Israel Education in Atlanta worked with Behrman House on a new Israeli workbook for middle schools, “Israel…It’s Complicated.”
It gives a rich overview of history and culture through quotes, primary documents and photographs.
The book, which is ideal for grades six and seven, includes activities that invite students to engage with the material on a personal level. Each chapter introduces a topic that covers diversity, democracy, innovation and conflict/peace to portray the spectrum of Israeli life and inspire connections between American students and the modern state of Israel.
Since this book is meant for middle school students, “teachers should be using facts and stories to emphasize these concepts, not the other way around,” Walter, vice president of CIE curriculum and outreach, notes in the foreword of the book.
“Don’t try to cover every historical fact. You are teaching students grades 6–7, not a university seminar. Before using these materials, I suggest that you craft a vision for Israel education for yourself and your students. This need not, and should not, be a personal process.”
There is also a teacher’s resource guide to challenge students and advise them to form their own opinions by providing content and context and using primary sources when possible.
“Our aim as Israel educators should be to create critical thinkers, not followers, no matter our personal politics,” Walter wrote. “We should not be afraid if our students ultimately form a different relationship with Israel than their teachers, parents, or grandparents. As North American Jews we can move forward by educating ourselves and our communities to create understanding and dialogue. Our past, present, and future as Jews is inextricably linked with Israel.”
For more information about the book, visit www.behrmanhouse.com.