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Greening the Curriculum: Current Trends in Environmental Education in Israel's Public Schools

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Abstract

The importance of environmental education as part of national strategies for sustainability is recognized throughout the world. In recent years, substantial efforts and many millions of shekels have been invested in developing environmental education programs in Israel's schools. Unfortunately, outcomes in terms of pupils' environmental literacy are far from satisfying. This article reviews the origins of environmental education in Israel, considers its evolution, describes the present situation within Israel's educational system, as well as the major educational programs that are active in Israel today. Israel's educational goals remain centered on security, economics, and industrial needs, without internalizing the significance of environment quality as a critical factor for healthy global and national futures as well as a prerequisite for a sustainable prosperity. The article reviews ideas for improving existing levels of environmental education and increasing the commitment of teachers and schools to inculcating related knowledge and values.

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... In recent years, Israel has demonstrated significant progress in implementing EfS at the national level, and the Israeli Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, promote such education in schools. One of the significant steps taken by these departments is the transformation of educational institutions into 'green' educational institutions (Sagy & Tal, 2015;Tal & Peled, 2017). Nevertheless, despite the steps taken in Israel in recent years towards enhancing EfS, some claim that implementing environmental education in schools is challenging due to a number of factors: there is no structured, compulsory curriculum; there is a scarcity of appropriate study materials; and there is a shortage of qualified teachers (Abramovich & Loria, 2015;Negev, Sagy, Garb, Salzberg & Tal, 2008;Tal & Abramovich, 2013;Tal & Peled, 2017). ...
... Nevertheless, despite the steps taken in Israel in recent years towards enhancing EfS, some claim that implementing environmental education in schools is challenging due to a number of factors: there is no structured, compulsory curriculum; there is a scarcity of appropriate study materials; and there is a shortage of qualified teachers (Abramovich & Loria, 2015;Negev, Sagy, Garb, Salzberg & Tal, 2008;Tal & Abramovich, 2013;Tal & Peled, 2017). Most importantly, the absence of a clear, unified, vision means that environmental education cannot realize its full potential since each educator contributes according to their own personal perceptions and the actions they are individually familiar with (Sagy & Tal, 2015;Tal & Abramovich, 2013;Tal & Peled, 2017). ...
... In recent years, there has been initiation of a program towards educational institutions accreditation as 'green schools' (Sagy & Tal, 2015), that is, schools that offer unique programs in environmental issues, provide activities that encourage the sensible use and reduced consumption of resources, and cultivate and promote environmental projects in the community -all according to values defined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. In ...
... In recent years, Israel has demonstrated significant progress in implementing EfS at the national level, and the Israeli Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, promote such education in schools. One of the significant steps taken by these departments is the transformation of educational institutions into 'green' educational institutions (Sagy & Tal, 2015;Tal & Peled, 2017). Nevertheless, despite the steps taken in Israel in recent years towards enhancing EfS, some claim that implementing environmental education in schools is challenging due to a number of factors: there is no structured, compulsory curriculum; there is a scarcity of appropriate study materials; and there is a shortage of qualified teachers (Abramovich & Loria, 2015;Negev, Sagy, Garb, Salzberg & Tal, 2008;Tal & Abramovich, 2013;Tal & Peled, 2017). ...
... Nevertheless, despite the steps taken in Israel in recent years towards enhancing EfS, some claim that implementing environmental education in schools is challenging due to a number of factors: there is no structured, compulsory curriculum; there is a scarcity of appropriate study materials; and there is a shortage of qualified teachers (Abramovich & Loria, 2015;Negev, Sagy, Garb, Salzberg & Tal, 2008;Tal & Abramovich, 2013;Tal & Peled, 2017). Most importantly, the absence of a clear, unified, vision means that environmental education cannot realize its full potential since each educator contributes according to their own personal perceptions and the actions they are individually familiar with (Sagy & Tal, 2015;Tal & Abramovich, 2013;Tal & Peled, 2017). ...
... In recent years, there has been initiation of a program towards educational institutions accreditation as 'green schools' (Sagy & Tal, 2015), that is, schools that offer unique programs in environmental issues, provide activities that encourage the sensible use and reduced consumption of resources, and cultivate and promote environmental projects in the community -all according to values defined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. In ...
... In fact, education is perceived as important because, through the learning process, individuals or communities that are intellectual, active, understanding and able to recognize good or bad can be produced [3,4]. Importance Environmental education is part of a national strategy to sustain sustainability around the world [5] and it is parallel to the international awareness movement through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ...
... However, there are items with a low percentage of 'yes' responses, including item 10, referring to the attitude of "do not care about cleanliness of house", where ten per cent of respondents agreed with that attitude, while 83.4 per cent of respondents chose 'no', meaning they disagreed with the attitude. The same goes to for item 66 5 12, which is "do not want to cooperate in any cleaning activities": 18.2 per cent of respondents chose 'yes' to support that attitude, while 81.4 per cent chose 'no'. ...
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The study aimed to examine the knowledge, attitude and practices of environmental sustainability of pre-school students in Malaysia. This study applied a quantitative method comprising questionnaires with 500 pre-school students. Research variables were knowledge of recyclable and non-recyclable materials, sustainability knowledge, sustainability attitudes and sustainability Reuse-Reduce-Recycle (3R) practices. Most variables including knowledge of recyclable and non-recyclable materials, sustainability knowledge, sustainability attitudes and sustainability Reuse-Reduce-Recycle (3R) practices were at high levels. While, the analysis of correlation test explained that there was a significant relationship between every variables. It can be concluded that a high level of knowledge does not give effect in increasing the sustainability practices of students. Therefore, a strong commitment from teachers are requires to improve the knowledge, attitude and practice of sustainability in the early stages of education. The readiness of early childhood education teachers in respect of continuous training in various sustainability activities is a vital requirement to systematically and effectively apply sustainability practices.
... Before the government decision and more so after it, attempts were made to develop programs for environmental education and implement them into the Israeli school system. Despite the efforts invested in these programs, environmental literacy is still in its infancy (Sagy, 2010, Sagy & Tal, 2015. ...
... Some elective activities contradict each other. Unfortunately, the outcomes of the EfS programs in Israel, in terms of pupils' environmental literacy, are far from satisfying (Sagy & Tal, 2015). ...
... As in other countries, the issue of environmental sustainability is gaining attention within Israel's educational system. Sagy and Tal (2015) reported that environmental issues are an integral part of the ethos of the Israeli society and have deep historical roots within the Zionist movement. In 2004, the MOE defined as a standard, the need to learn about environmental sustainability as part of the core curriculum for primary schools. ...
... In 2004, the MOE defined as a standard, the need to learn about environmental sustainability as part of the core curriculum for primary schools. However, in practice, this subject is being marginalized and taught only in the areas of science and technology as teachers are lacking appropriate knowledge and skills, learning materials are not updated, and the resources for advancing environmental education are scarce (Sagy and Tal, 2015). Moreover, there are indications that there is no compatibility between parents and schools in regard to the sustainability agenda (Eilam and Trop, 2013). ...
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This study views school as a platform for leading social change in the local community, with a particular emphasis on the school’s parents as a part of that community. As such, taking the case of a green school, we examined the relative effects of three means –outreach, communication and attentiveness to the local community’s needs – that can instill new norms and behavior among parents. A sample of 95 parents of fifth and sixth grade students answered a questionnaire. It was found that the school’s means for leading change had different impacts on parents’ attitudes and behavior. However, the findings supported that educators could be regarded as institutional carriers of social change through a relational system.
... Unfortunately, the results in terms of environmental literacy between countries and, specifically, students, are far from satisfactory, mainly because the government of each country has different priorities. For instance, Israel's educational goals remain focused on security, the economy, and industrial needs, without internalizing environmental issues (Sagy & Tal, 2015), and Australian education policies do not provide opportunities to generate empowerment through education be integrated into the work of the sustainable development goals (Morley, 2020). ...
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In most developing countries, local companies have more expensive polluting production technology than those in developed countries. On the other hand, there is a growing concern to produce and consume ecological goods in the world. Based on this reality, and using environmental awareness as public policy, this article uses a theoretical model that determines the level of environmental awareness that a government receiving foreign investment is willing to promote, taking into account oligopolistic competition between foreign and local companies in the country. The optimal environmental awareness policy considers the impact of this policy on local investment, the benefit of the consumer, foreign investment flows, and the disutility of the contamination of polluting goods in the population. The optimal level of environmental awareness is found to depend on the degree of disutility of pollution and the introjection of politics induced by the host government.
... In recent years, there has been the initiation of a program toward educational institutions' accreditation as 'green schools' (Sagy & Tal, 2015), that is, schools that offer unique programs on environmental issues, provide activities that encourage the sensible use and reduced consumption of resources, and cultivate and promote environmental projects in the communityall according to values defined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. ...
... Ecocentrism recognizes the intrinsic value of nature and the role played by humans in protecting and conserving the environment (Kopnina, 2017;Cocks & Simpson, 2015;Imram et al., 2014;McDonald, 2014;Kaufman, 2003;Brady & Pratt, 2005). This view of an equal relationship between humans and the environment (Cocks & Simpson, 2015;Nauda, 2017;Sagy & Tal, 2015) is important in developing peoples' environmental attitudes towards environmental problems. As an attitudinal outcome, ecocentrism can be achieved through environmental education and environmental communication. ...
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Capping the final issue for the pandemic year 2021 is the release of the journal's tenth issue, Volume 4.4 (October-December 2021). The issue features 16 interesting papers which discussed various topics on mental health, spiritual well-being, quality of available healthcare services, online teaching pedagogy, electronic evidence, school management, a course review of the Readings in Philippine History, research productivity in the Philippines, national census data utility, the effect of the farmer field school, and development of a tool to measure kapwa, ecocentrism, and model for social communication. READ FULL TEXTS HERE: https://philssj.org/index.php/main/issue/view/12
... The "National Education Law" promulgated four years later emphasizes that students should be encouraged to participate in environmental protection activities, further clarifying the status of environmental education in the national education system. In 1992, under the guidance of the UN's "Agenda 21", Israel decided to make environmental protection education a core part of the national strategy [7]. In 2004, the Israeli Ministry of Education issued the "Standard Document" for Israel's Sustainable Development Education Curriculum based on the "Israel's Sustainable Development Strategic Plan", which was implemented by many schools. ...
... In this respect, a growing number of works are dealing with these issues. For instance, very popular terms are emerging such as "greening" the school [93], the curriculum [94] or the education [95], or focused ethics such as "ethical school" [96], "ethical education" [97] and "education for sustainable development" [98], between others. All these terms are, in fact, closely associated to the construction of new knowledge related to sustainability, and the ability of developing sustainable practices and actions for the near future but there is no agreement about the best combination of competencies for this end. ...
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Currently in the European Union, regional policies and their related programs are aware of the importance of fostering social responsibility, whilst, at same time, they have to promote entrepreneurship. Promoting the culture of sustainable entrepreneurship could be the answer. In this article, the Spanish case-study of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura is analyzed to show the existing regional policies fostering voluntary educational programs devoted to entrepreneurship since 2012. In this context, a specific entrepreneurship project related to sustainability was developed in 2017–2018 in secondary schools with the leitmotiv to consider the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations. Using the Structural Equation Modeling method with a sample of 630 students under the umbrella of the project called Teenemprende, the study concludes by highlighting that sustainable entrepreneurial culture programs in the public educational system already have some positive effect on the students´ attitude to social responsibility, thus empowering them to change the world for a better future.
... This new generation of activists has linked environmental and social justice (Tal et al. 2013), and tended to depict previous modes of environmental thought as traditional, outdated worldviews. Various Israeli environmental organizations have appeared since the 1990s (Tal 2008), and their activism has affected the legal system (Tal 2008), planning authorities (Shmueli et al. 2015), consumer patterns (Greenspan, Handy, and Katz-Gerro 2012), education (Sagy and Tal 2015), media (Agam Dali 2013), policy, and politics (Shani Forthcoming a). Activists have worked through environmental NGOs and think-tanks to impact civil society, with some actors endorsing the sustainability paradigm gradually entering state organizations like the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPN) and related state agencies. ...
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Although there is burgeoning research on environmental activism, few studies have examined the interrelationship between nationalism and nature protection in detail. This article examines how groups manage the tension between national commitment and caring for the environment. It focuses on two opposing Israeli activist groups: a settler movement that aims to establish new communities in the fast‐dwindling Israeli open expanses and a “green” movement intent on preserving open spaces. Our observations, interviews, and textual analysis show that both groups believe themselves to be committed to the protection of nature, and that both groups see environmental responsibility as an integral aspect of their Zionist identity. However, the Israeli green movement sees abstaining from interventions in nature and adhering to sustainable development as Zionist because it preserves Israel for future generations. Conversely, the settler movement sees active intervention in nature—by building new communities, planting trees, and hiking—as the proper way to protect Israeli natural expanses and to maintain the livelihood of Israeli society. Our case study demonstrates that, although environmental movements often aspire to universalism, local movements also interlace environmentalism and nationalism in ways that generate multiple (and even contradictory) interpretations of the appropriate way to care for nature.
... For over a decade, Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection has sponsored a program whereby schools can be accredited for environmentally conscientious performance (Sagy & Tal, 2015). Green Schools are certified for a variety of environmental activities, among which is the establishment of a group of students that is in charge of leading environmental activities in school under the guidance of a teacher. ...
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While the environmental impacts of religious and secular holidays are increasingly characterized, interventions to reduce their effects are modest and poorly understood. Israel's L'ag B'omer holiday has emerged as a major air pollution source due to the common practice of lighting bonfires. We implemented and evaluated an intervention amongst Israeli school children in which they were challenged to design and adopt alternative "environmentally friendly" celebrations that maintained the holiday spirit. The interventions were observed and a mixed method approach applied to study implementation involving, interviews with teachers, parents and students as well as an ex-post questionnaire answered by participants. Children supporting environmental celebrations displayed higher levels of environmental behavior, and environmental hope than those preferring bonfires. Those who voted for an environmental alternative, against the majority, also displayed higher levels of self-control skills. The study confirms the potential of well-designed, environmentally friendly holiday celebrations to replace environmentally deleterious ones.
... Teachers in nature kindergartens allowing child-animal interactions are very useful for children and they benefit from it (Melson, 2003). Nature-oriented schooling involving child-animal interaction is not very common in Israel (Sagy & Tal, 2015). One reason for the low level of introduction of children-animal interactions to kindergartens may be a sign of conservatism in many educational systems and/or might be related to the fear of the risks associated with the interactions with animals (e.g. ...
... Their objective knowledge supports this conclusion: for the less familiar subjects, more than 50% of the students could not provide, or provided an incorrect explanation, indicating their lack of actual knowledge. This state of affairs has been identified in other studies that examined EL-characteristics of Israeli HE students Yavetz, Goldman, and Pe'er 2009) and may reflect the conventional disciplinary science education oriented emphasis on 'environment' in high school (Sagy and Tal 2015;Tal 2004) as well as in the majority of courses in undergraduate programs. This makes it all the more important that sustainability-oriented integrative programs, which are the focus of this study, address those contemporary and less emphasized dimensions of sustainability (Fien 2007) which are crucial for a holistic and socially critical comprehension of environmental challenges. ...
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One aspect of the increasing position of sustainability in higher education is establishment of distinct interdisciplinary environment-oriented programs. The point-of-departure of this study is differentiation between teaching- and non-teaching-oriented students, in view of their different respective professional roles in society. The motives and environmental literacy (EL) of incoming students were investigated in three types of sustainability programs in Israel: undergraduate teacher-training, graduate teacher-education and graduate non-teacher programs. For all students acquiring knowledge was the major motive for studies. Undergraduate student-teachers demonstrated the least developed EL, although it is slightly higher than that found for incoming student-teachers a decade ago. Graduate teacher-students displayed strong identity as educational agents-of-change and role-models; however, their limited environmental-knowledge raises questions concerning providing knowledge foundations in undergraduate teacher-training programs, indicating the necessity to supplement this in graduate teacher-programs. Graduate non-teacher students perceive their continuing sustainability-oriented studies as a means for developing an environmental career and enter these programs relatively environmentally-literate. The implications focus on necessary components and characteristics of sustainability-programs directed to teaching- and non-teaching-oriented students. These include the necessity to strengthen the environmental-knowledge component in programs directed to teachers; and embed opportunities for professional internships within graduate programs for non-teachers seeking environmental careers.
... From the 1970s, the Israeli Ministry of Education began to add environmental issues into traditional school subjects such as sciences, biology, and nature studies. In recent years, substantial efforts and resources have been invested in developing environmental education programs in the Israeli school system(Sagy & Tal, 2015). Elementary schools in Israel are obligated to teach 'environmental studies' as an integral part of the curriculum, while schools can join environmental networks related to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (Pizmony-Levy, 2011). ...
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What Do Schools Teach?" in e Hidden Curriculum and Moral Education: Deception or Discovery?
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Homeland, Society and Citizenship
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  • Abraham Blum
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  • Revital Tal
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