As a graduate of the Israeli educational system, it was important for me to offer a solution for breaking the cycle of creating uninformed citizens, and change the learning experience from boring to empowering.
Most students use the Civics book to memorise texts in order to pass their exams. There are three main reasons for this:
The original book consists of nearly 600 pages of illegible text and archaic design, which makes it resemble a legal document weighing 2 kg. Reading this book is an impossible task, especially for a 17 year old student.
Censored History, False Reality, What Future?
The book portrays a false reality as the latest version was printed in 2001, rendering it irrelevant by disregarding current affairs. The book also represents a narrow range of opinions by censoring history and distorting it into a single narrative of a country populated by two nations. Teachers are left with the responsibility of providing the missing information and bridging the gap between what the students are learning and the reality they live in.
Dependency Inside and Outside the Classroom
The curriculum ignores the urgency of the subject and the great responsibility that it holds, which results in many uninformed, uninterested young adults who become passive citizens - making them dependent on their teacher for information, and in turn, dependent on their parents and country for survival.
The challenge was twofold: designing a learning experience that is enjoyable, comprehensive and effective, and creating a thought-provoking personal experience that enables understanding of the crucial importance of Civics, and encourages young adults to grow into proactive, caring and smart citizens.
Creating The Guide to the New Citizens of Israel as a set of three books and an interactive application designed to work synergistically in order to supplement the civics curriculum in the classroom, and prepare the students to their civic lives after graduation.
A Positive Personal Experience
The constant information is divided into three main subjects and produced as a set of three books: the Democracy Book, the State Book, and the Guide to Citizenship. This division of the text to smaller, well defined sections with clear learning goals, provides the students with a sense of achievement. Additionally, the text has been edited to reflect a pluralistic nature of an Israeli society that is diverse and inclusive.
The Choice of Print
The printed book is a source of information that has a clear beginning and end. It is easier to remember the location of something we read in printed text because we use our visual memory as well as reinforced motor memory. Apart from the reason that reading long texts is much easier on printed pages, the book as a physical object has an identity and therefore it gives the reader a sense of ownership and preciousness.
Print as a Bridge to Digital
The books become interactive by using a special printed capacitive touch technology, which allows the reader to interact with the app by pressing buttons on the page of the book itself. This offers the students the traditional experience of reading a printed book, and also the benefit of an application that allows them control over the advanced features included. For example, photos, maps, and illustrations highlighting the realities of modern Israeli society appear in the application, and are triggered by the input of the student during the reading process.
A Place for Questioning and Expression
The app is essentially an extended classroom environment, where students can access all the variable information, such as current affairs, statistics as well as complete their homework assignments, with time-saving benefits to students and teachers alike.
To enable a frank and relevant discussion during the learning process, students have the opportunity to blog about their opinions while they read. Over time, this activity encourages personal responsibility and creates a sense of belonging through participation.
Illustrates the ideological and historical aspects of democracy and how it is manifested in different countries over different periods of time. To emphasise the importance and influence of democracy on every aspect of our lives and throughout the human history, the images accompanying this book are taken from the Arts.
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