Hadas Reis is the initiator and inspiration behind INBAR – an innovative study track for female students from the Society for Advancement of Education which will begin this Fall in Jerusalem.
Here Hadas shares her moment of discovery, followed by research and the journey she embarked on to bring an innovative and even revolutionary model to the education system in Israel — a model whose pedagogy and profound program and the wisdom behind it will allow Israeli girls to grow up and be all they are and all their parents dreamed they could be.
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A few years ago, my daughter’s teacher asked me to give a lesson on entrepreneurship to her class in a girls only religious school. Something happened to me at this meeting in the classroom and beyond.
The students are arguing with me, erupting, laughing, trying to convince me of their opinion. One of the students is sitting on the side of the room knitting, looking quiet and distracted. I throw a provocative question into the air and she raises her head and answers me in an eloquent manner, an answer that stuns me. Certainly for a seventh grader. When I left the class, I walked around the school. In the wide corridor I sat down to watch the students during the break.
The class experience still excites me. The girls go are of different ages, have different looks, different outfits. But something’s bothering me. There’s something different from what I’m used to seeing in the other schools where I lecture. Only after a few minutes do I understand what I see. This comfort of the students with their bodies, with what they wore, with the way they stood, moved, danced, laughed. So free and natural, so not “conscious” and “meticulous”.
When I left the school in the direction of the gate, it was the first time I asked myself whether it could be like this in a non-religious school. This experience sent me to read, research, ask, go to see such models (secular, feminist, public) abroad and come back with my dream — to establish such a framework in Israel in a non-religious school so girls can feel that this world, this life is theirs. That they can achieve their dreams and aspirations and that their gender and gender bias and social construction will not stop them.
When we built INBAR’s pedagogy, we knew that this sense of competence should be given a central place in the process in and out of school. We understood the challenges, and what tools INBAR’s student would need to grow to be confident, inspiring women who understand that they are part of the game and can lead it.
There are many questions that arise with all girls in one class. From what I have seen and studied, the significant effect occurs not only within the classroom, but outside, during recess, in school spaces. I spoke this week with a graduate of a girls’ school in London, a super achiever in math, science, and languages. But she noted that she had low self-confidence, was afraid to speak out, and was afraid to take significant leadership roles. Because separating is not enough. We need a deep and meaningful program in all the schools that are involved and separated so that a change can begin, and it begins small. It will take many years before we reach equal systems.
So meanwhile, If you know a student who is looking for a unique learning environment that will challenge her, teach her about friends and relationships, her body and her voice – send her to us at INBAR. Registration is already open and students of the first year are expected a tremendous experience!