Teaching Civics And Instilling Democratic Values In Israeli High School Students: The Duality Of National And Universal Aspects

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Nitza Davidovitch
Dan Soen


Civic Studies, Values, Democracy


Civic studies in Israel and elsewhere are unlike any other school subject. This course of study has a higher purpose to transform students into good citizens. In contrast to other core subjects, civics, in essence, strives to realize ethical goals. While other subjects perceive the instilling of values as a secondary outcome, in civics the ultimate goal is to teach values. In Israel, civic studies are currently a compulsory subject for high school students and they are required to learn, know, and understand essential values, principles, and characteristics of Jewish Israeli democracy (since Israel is defined as a Jewish Democratic State). The operational objective of this process is to teach good citizenship and proper involvement in public life.

In the current study, the authors examined to what degree students assimilate these values in practice. For this purpose, the authors administered a questionnaire measuring views on values. It consisted of 16 items on the significance of various values, ranging from the national to the universal. The questionnaire was administered to over 1,300 students at public high schools. In addition, the authors also administered the questionnaire to about 260 teenagers active in a youth movement, with the aim of comparing the value mix of the two populations. Research findings indicated that both groups placed universal values highest, followed by values of self-realization, Zionism, and Judaism, respectively. Research conclusions show a compatibility between the significance accorded to these values in the curriculum and the significance attributed to them by students.


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