Recently I rediscovered my old booklet from my kindergarten career 1959 till 1961. Located in the adjoining rooms of an evangelical church. In wintertime one room was heated with a giant oven fed with coal. Coal was common in the Ruhr region of Germany. The bathrooms where separated for boys and girls on the other side of a cemetery. Behind the doors with heart-shaped windows where the thunder boxes. Two aunts with starched white aprons took care of our spiritual and physical well-being. Two kindergarten teachers for 16 kids was ideal. Nevertheless they did not manage to stimulate us intellectually. Possibly this was not intended in after war Germany. We painted, shredded and glued paper and sung, depending on the season. If I am looking at my artistic works until 1961 I have real doubts about my maturity to enter school. Anyway I found the proof about my left-handedness: my name in mirror-writing, like Leonardo da Vinci’s.
After some days I learnt from Times of Israel in an article about the opening of the first kindergarten offering hi-tech in Beer Sheva. Present were our former Chief of General Staff of the IDF, Gabi Ashkenazi in his function as CEO of the Rashi Foundation, Ruby Danilovich , mayor of Beer Sheva, Marilyn Hewson, CEO and President of the Lookheed Martin Corporation and our Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett.
All these VIP’s just for a kindergarten? And one at the border of the Negev desert? But Beer Sheva is just about to become a further Research and Education Center in Israel.
What is already present in primary and high schools finds now its way into the world of the youngest, into the kindergarten. The kids are not little Einstein’s, or children forced by eager parents to leave their childhood too early. They are simply children who are curious and possess ability and understanding!
The kindergarten offers various media, sufficient PC workstations for working and playing. But they have nothing in common with the screechy and noisy “Learning-PC’s”.
LEGO developed a special line actually planned for children above ten years old but will be used in the kindergarten. Assembly is simple and the controlling is done with a PC. Quickly the typical black-white-red colored LEGO robots are crawling on the table, pushing, throwing and transporting items from one to an other place. As usual with LEGO, beginning is easy and complexity will increase according to skills. The educational purpose is clear, the children will recognize the simple principles of robotics, find out about the benefits and its use.
Other kindergarten are using this products already, however without using the educational possibilities.
Minister of Education Naftali Bennet is sure: “Exposing kindergarten-age students to the sciences will open a window for them into endless activities and challenges,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the opening of the kindergarten last Thursday. “We will see the fruits of this venture in the coming years. And, without a doubt, it will have a very positive effect on the lives of these children, and will greatly benefit Israel.”
The at the time three classes of 100 children are taught 300 hours per year according to a specially developed curriculum. The sponsors are convinced about this great idea. Including myself, a former high school teacher, I like this project.
The kindergarten — the first of many the ministry hopes to open — will be a grand experiment in developing a curriculum that can educate 5-year-olds on the basics of hard sciences — and hard subjects — like physics, chemistry, astronomy, and robotics, and introduce kids to the scientific method, instilling in them a love of research and learning.
The second large sponsor, Lookheed-Martin, globally well established in the area of defense, security and space technology, opened in 2014 jointly with the US-American IT storage company EMC in the industrial park of Beer Sheva a new research and development center.
“Israel’s continued growth as an advanced high-tech nation requires the development of a younger generation that is well trained and educated in areas like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These are the skills companies like Lockheed-Martin need the most,” said CEO Marilyn Hewson. “We are proud to be participating in this project together with the Education Ministry, the city of Beersheva, and the Rashi Foundation,” continued Hewson. “All of us have the same goal — to help develop science and tech education in Israel, from kindergarten through high school.”
The third large sponsor is the Rashi Foundation, established 1984, “We have been working since 1984 to realize Gustave’s (the founder) vision of a stable and prosperous Israel that draws its strength from a society in which every individual can realize his or her true potential.”
It is known, that in Israel are children and youngsters who are discriminated because of social, financial and geographical reasons or because of personal disturbances, but otherwise capable for an education. For them the Rashi Foundation has developed various programs, exactly made up for our young fellow citizens.
Its great to see how more and more programs are at disposal to support the education of children and youngsters and to prevent and assure the cure of aberrations. Israel provides its children and youngsters a perspective for a meaningful life.
© esther scheiner, israel