Arts & Culture is an effective educational strategy for engaging American students, teachers, and entire school communities with Israel. Many schools find this strategy appealing and choose to adopt it as either their sole Israel Education strategy, or as one of a constellation of strategies.
The Arts & Culture strategy is a flexible one, and can involve everything from exposing teachers and students to various Israeli artistic and cultural expressions (visual art, music, film, literature, poetry, dance, theater, etc.) to using it as a part of art education as a hands-on way for students to engage with Israel. Most often, the strategy employs both of these approaches.
The BASIS Arts & Culture specialist is the key person to work with schools opting for this strategy, regardless of which approach is chosen. She works closely with the Curriculum Team and BASIS Coordinator to translate larger curricular goals into more specific art-based lessons, activities and opportunities. Other natural partners for the specialist in this are the classroom teachers who regularly utilize art as a teaching methodology and obviously the school’s art educator(s). Therefore, the BASIS Arts&Culture specialist can help enhance already existing or planned content, as much as introduce new projects.
In the Bay Area BASIS initiative, the Arts & Culture specialist focused on visual arts, music, pupeteering and literature with the schools, but this most certainly does not have to be the emphasis in the future. The schools, with the guidance of the specialist, determine which artistic modes they want to include in their BASIS work.
Family or community Israel Education programs employing art can be a major aspect of this strategy, as is “portraiture,” or making Israel “present” in the school’s physical space either visually (bulletin board displays, murals, art installations, mosaics, etc.), or auditorily (music).
The Arts & Culture strategy lends itself to cooperation among the schools in terms of leveraging resources for lining up Israeli arts programming and taking advantage of opportunities to work with visiting Israeli artists. Similarly, a network of art teachers from the BASIS schools can be created for the purpose of sharing resources and best practices.
Here are two theoretical papers about the role of Arts and Culture in Jewish and Israel Education: Jesna’s “Arts in Jewish Education: Mapping the Landscape,” and Steve Israel’s “On Israeli Culture”. Also find examples of the many ways in which Arts and Culture could enrich Israel programming at all levels: As part of an Israel Curriculum in the schools, see how the art teacher at BHDS-Marin campus incorporated Israel Curriculum into art projects in different grades.
Contra Costa JDS incorporated art into their first grade Tefillah (prayer) around the theme of Ma Tovu: Places in Israel, which is part of the school’s articulated Scope and Sequence. As an example for the use of Arts and Culture in community building and professional development see flyer. Some schools used the opportunity given to them during BASIS to make Israel a permanent feature in the school. Above are pictures from a large Israel mural that the Shalom school in Sacramento created. The mosaic mural involved learning and applying the learning to this art project.
During BASIS, a great wealth of Arts and Culture curricula and resource material was created. Look at some of the selected programs at the Resources part of this website.