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Children Teaching Children (CTC) is a project of the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva, founded in 1986. It is an educational dialogue process that aspires to equip Jewish and Arab teachers and students with the tools to cope with living in a situation of continuous conflict. It now works with 38 classes in 24 schools, mostly in the north and north-central part of Israel, and includes some 80 teachers and 1,320 students from the fourth to the eleventh grade.
CTC began as a program in which Jewish and Arab children taught Hebrew and Arabic to one another. Today, the focus of the program has turned to reflecting the pluralistic, multicultural composition of the State of Israel and promoting a more complex vision of living in the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Supported by the Unit for Education for Democracy and Coexistence of the Ministry of Education, CTC is one of the most comprehensive onĀ¬going programs in Israel, bringing Arab and Jewish youth together in an educational framework. Except in a few cities, Arabs and Jews in Israel reside in segregated, nationally homogeneous communities. The university is usually the first place where Jews and Arabs personally meet on an equal level, and by then, years of misinformation and disinformation about the other side have prejudiced their opinions and formed stereotypes that are not easily dispelled.

Structure of the Program

The work of CTC is carried out on two parallel tracks, one targeting students and the other teachers. The program functions in two different settings: the homeroom and the binational encounter.
Classes from Jewish and Arab schools are paired for the length of the program, and the students and teachers meet with each other on a consistent basis throughout the school year. Between each encounter, the participants devote a portion of class time in their homeroom to processing the encounter experience and dwelling on the issues it raises. This is a two-year program which may be extended to a third year or concluded after the first year.
In its first stages, each participating class devotes two hours a week to uni-national CTC sessions. In their homeroom sessions, the students deepen their awareness of their identity and their group and self-image, through discussions on issues of democracy, pluralism, stereotypes and the reference groups that make up their identities.
As the year progresses, the classes meet the other side, encounters alternating evenly between the two schools for a range of creative activities from preliminary ice-breakers to drama, art, simulation games and field trips, revealing sensitive issues that the teachers and students are not wont to approach.
Highly motivated teachers work hand in hand with their Jewish and Arab colleagues in ways that are seldom possible in Israel's educational system. In their frequent meetings throughout the year, the teachers learn about each other's society, share reflections from their homeroom sessions, and undergo a growth process not unlike the one they lead their students through.
The teachers actively translate what is said in class and must know how to apply children's disclosures and observations so as to help the development of new forms of dialogue. Teachers undergo intensive training at Givat Haviva, including workshops in human relations, pedagogical skills, and the dynamics of Jewish-Arab encounters. They also attend two enrichment day-seminars during the school year.
Cooperation between teachers and Arab and Jewish field coordinators contributes much to the smooth operation and progress of the program. Field coordinators, who are educators with a great deal of experience coordinating and facilitating encounters between Arabs and Jews, meet with their respective teams of teachers on a regular basis, so as to help them process their experiences in the program. They work in pairs, and a Jewish and Arab field coordinator are present at each binational encounter as observers.
Teachers and coordinators analyze students' responses to issues raised in class, including external events, such as terrorism or developments in the peace process, which have effects on what transpires in the classroom. An important aspect of CTC is the small ratio between the number of students and teachers, about 14:1. It is only in such small groups that earnest dialogue can ensue.

Evaluation and Participation Patterns

Evaluation of the program's success is based on four criteria: The first is the level of cooperation achieved between Jews and Arabs - teachers and students - and the degree of involvement in the activities. The second is the changes in the tone of the discussion and the ability of participants to listen. The third is the willingness to breach and discuss controversial topics and the degree to which students and teachers are willing to reveal their personal thoughts. Finally, the fourth criterion is the willingness for introspection and for questioning what has been taken for granted.
There are many asymmetrical phenomena in binational settings. The motivation of each side is completely different. The Jewish students approach the sessions with a feeling of superiority, while the Arab students feel that they are there to tell Jewish students "the truth," and prove to them that they are human beings. But both groups still surprise each other: Arab children are taken aback by Jewish children's sprints to the refreshment table after the meetings, and Jewish students are surprised by the Arab students' disciplined behavior and great respect for their teacher. Both groups are surprised when the other group has never heard of their most revered pop icons.
The binational sessions have their own dynamic: First come personal introductions, then students gradually become more willing to discuss their family life, acquaintances deepen, sometimes short-term friendships develop, and finally, some groups even delve into political controversies. Last year, junior-high school students in CTC jointly investigated examples of Jewish-Arab cooperation in Haifa and published a booklet explaining their findings.
Parental support for the project is today universal on both sides, but seven or eight years ago, at the height of the Intifada, some Jewish parents had reservations about letting their children travel to Arab towns and villages, and a small minority of parents refused to let their children participate. On one occasion, when Jewish parents insisted that an armed guard accompany the children, Arab school officials rejected the demand, and a compromise was reached so that the guard accompanied the group to the village, but stayed on the bus.

Face to Face

Arab-Jewish encounters and curricula to educate towards peace and democracy have become important new subfields in the field of education in Israel. In addition to CTC, another program, Face to Face, brings together teenagers from Jewish and Arab high schools for two- and three-day integrated seminar retreats at Givat Haviva. Face to Face, which has been functioning for 12 years, involves over 1,500 students from schools all across Israel, from the Negev to the far North.
The program is designed for older, more sophisticated students, and the encounters include intensive and substantive dialogue sessions that don't shy away from the controversial topics at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Face to Face usually offers only one or two preparatory seminars prior to the integrated encounter at Givat Haviva, and apart from Tel Aviv-Yaffo, does not necessarily attempt to cultivate an ongoing relationship between the paired schools. The schools are usually matched according to the academic level of their student bodies.
In light of growing interest in classes in peace and democracy, including Palestinian NGO's, Givat Haviva has recently opened a resource center for coordinating binational encounters and developing curricula for formal and informal education in the field. <

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