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The Possibilities of Interethnic Group Contact in the Junior High Schools: Implementation and Results / אפשרויות המפגש הבין-עדתי בחטיבות הביניים, מימושו ותוצאותיו

מיכאל חן, אריה לוי, דרורה כפיר, Michael Chen, Arieh Lewy and Drora Kfir
Megamot / מגמות
Vol. כ"ג‎, No. 3/4, אינטגראציה וחינוך בישראל‎ (שבט תשל"ח / דצמבר 1977), pp. 101-123
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23650238
Page Count: 23
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The Possibilities of Interethnic Group Contact in the Junior High Schools: Implementation and Results / אפשרויות המפגש הבין-עדתי בחטיבות הביניים, מימושו ותוצאותיו
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Abstract

Integration is considered to be a central social task in Israeli society, particularly in the school system. That system has accepted this challenge, to create a unified Israeli society, in spite of the vast differences between its ethnic groups and social classes. By assembling children of different ethnic origins and family backgrounds under one educational roof, the educational policy-markers had hoped to achieve other aims, besides equality of opportunity in education and national cohesion. They had hoped that through integration, the scholastic achievements of the weak group would improve, as well as this group's chances for continuing in the more prestigious tracks of senior high school. Like-wise, they had hoped that social ties would be created among the various ethnic groups. Despite prior doubts and anxieties, the junior high school was successful in absorbing a more heterogeneous student population than the traditional neighborhood school. In some instances, schools were able to maintain regular normal interaction between students from very different social extremes. Two basic factors limit, however, a speedy implementation of the desired ethnic integration: (1) the ethnic homogeneity of Israeli settlements, and (2) the division of State education into a religious school system and a secular one. As a result of these factors, the degree of interethnic group encounter was not increased very much with the establishment of the junior high schools. Only a few of the hopes which were pinned on integration have been realized. Students are studying together in the same classes without an atmosphere of social tension, and they share the same criteria for their selection of friends from among their classmates. Also, the attitude of all the students towards Israeli society appears to be generally positive. However, the achievement gap between the groups has not been diminished, nor the gap with respect to continued schooling. In fact, the classification of students according to ability for some or all subjects undermined from the beginning the possible positive effects of a heterogeneous classroom in the junior high school. Psychologically and socially, no indication has been given that any group has paid any high price as a result of integration. There are signs that students of the Asian-African group are drawing closer to the major values of the European-American group which are dominant in society. For example, there was a reduction in the degree of ethnic group-identification, an increase in the level of aspirations, and a tendency towards a more internal locus of control. The observed lowering of self-image in the Asian-African group, which may be viewed by some as a high price to be paid for integration, might serve to reduce the crisis of future contact with the achievement-oriented mainstream of Israeli society.

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