Kindergarten in Community: The Case of the Kibbutz

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Kindergarten in Community: The Case of the Kibbutz
Stream: Teaching Experiences, Pedagogy, Practice & Praxis
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Deborah Golden, University of Haifa, Israel
Ora Aviezer, Tel Hai Academic College and University of Haifa, Israel


This paper explores the links between kindergarten and community, by following the trajectory of kibbutz early childhood education, from the early decades of the 20th century to the present day. Originally, kibbutzim were small, geographically-isolated, single-generation communities, founded by young adults seeking to create a collective society. These circumstances shaped kibbutz early childhood education in distinct ways. Anchored in the claim that educational enterprises serve as a "person-forming project" (Norman, 1991), we ask three questions: What sort of persons did kibbutz early childhood education seek to form? How was this person-forming project elaborated in pedagogical practices? What has changed over the last century and what has remained the same? In its first decades, the kibbutz early childhood education was underpinned by three fundamental understandings: children and educators were viewed as bound together as members of a community, adults were collectively responsible for children, and children were viewed as intrinsically capable and trustworthy. These understandings were manifest in distinct pedagogical practices, including the Junkyard, and daily walks in the community. Recent data collected from kibbutz kindergarten teachers allow us to examine the current relevance of these core understandings for educators. As educators across the globe grapple with questions regarding the links between educational settings and the communities in which they are embedded, the issues explored in this paper resonate well beyond the case of the kibbutz.

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