There is a sensitive question that defines an excellent education system, and the question is: Do you genuinely trust your school teachers? Do we trust our teachers? Many of us respond by quoting the Korean minister of education who said that "the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers", but do we include teachers around the policy making table or in our research teams? Others, recall a great teacher who believed in us and showed us the way forward. But I am not asking about a specific teacher, the question is about the profession, the teaching profession. Do we trust teachers as the solution to the problem, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed? Do we trust them the way we trust other professionals, such as airplane pilots or hospital surgeons?
Well, when it comes to pilots, we believe, that they are brave, they master the craft of flying, they have a low baritone voice (that always works) and they operate a highly sophisticated dashboard, they are so confident. that whenever they exit the plane, they go into the briefing room to admit their mistakes before their colleagues and learn from them together.
And surgeons, with their white coats, diplomas hanged on the wall and impossible hand writing, well 200 years ago, we did not trust them at all, they were part-time barbers and butchers, and we suffered quite a bit under their hands, but through technology, the sharing of practice and research, they earned our trust. In Israel of today, a hospital is probably the only place where you would allow a Russian born doctor approach you with a syringe and an Arab with a knife, and you would do it willingly and thankfully. You would trust your life them, with your eyes closed.
We trust pilots and surgeons as professionals because they document, they diagnose and they measure. They analyze and share their practice with each other. They write their own protocols, their own manuals and their own textbooks. So do we trust our teachers in the same manner? We entrust with them our most precious asset, our children, our future, but do we trust them? My answer to this defining question here today is: we are getting there.
We will be getting there because, the Weizmann Institute, one of Israel's and the world's leading beacons of science, is embracing high school teachers of mathematics and the sciences and creating for them a professional home. In close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Institute is spreading today a web of teacher communities all across the country, where teachers actually document, share and improve their teaching practice together. The institute is leading the use of video and other technologies to analyze teaching practice by teachers, and the use of diagnostic assignments to help teachers capture the links between their teaching and their students' learning. When policy, research and practice join hands in such way to give power to teachers to build their own professionalism from within, this is defiantly a crossroad for transformation, for progress and for hope. This is why I am optimistic that we are getting there.
Allow me to share with a quote, as follows: "I have worked all my life to make science and research a cornerstone of our National Enterprise", this phrase was said by our first President Haim Weizmann, at the opening ceremony of the Knesset some 70 years ago. In tears he added: "but I knew very well that at the basis and above science there are higher values that could cure humanity – values of justice, integrity, peace and solidarity". It is an honor and a privilege to partner with an Institute that carries the name and spirit of Weizmann, and to follow his legacy to improve science education as a basis for a better Israel and a healthier humanity. So, on behalf of the foundation, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for the opportunity you gave us to be with you in this journey, and to thank you Daniel and Israel for your vision, commitment, your leadership, your patience and for your trust.
openning remarks at a ceremony held by the Weizmann Institute to mark the upcoming establishment of the National Institute for Advanced Teaching in Mathematics and the Sciences