Scholars for a Day: South Tel Aviv Kids Take a Shot at Academia
The recipients of the elegantly printed diplomas were not executives earning their MBAs but sixth-grade students from the Bialik-Rogozin school in South Tel Aviv. There were no caps and gowns, but there was pizza and chocolate cake.
The students visited the TAU campus as a finale to their participation of the Shiur Acher (“A Different Lesson”) program. Now in its 6th year, the program places faculty volunteers from the School of Management at Bialik-Rogozin to teach classes on their fields of expertise. For example, Professor Nisan Langberg taught the children about how prices are set in markets; he used books and tomatoes as examples in explaining what happens when prices are too low.
As part of their field trip to TAU, the children were treated to a university-style lecture and a tour of TAU's I. Meier Segals Garden for Zoological Research – a welcome break from their usual study routine.
Many of the students at the Bialik-Rogozin School are from struggling families of refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, The Phillipines and other conflict-ridden areas. Some were born in Israel to foreign parents; others fled their native countries via Egypt with their families. Often, their legal status in Israel is tenuous, making their existence here even more trying.
"Shiur Acher" is an opportunity for the children to explore people, experiences and ideas they are unlikely to encounter in their daily lives.
Chantal, one of the children who took part in the program, said she enjoyed the tour of the zoo because it "develops her thoughts more." She and her classmates don't usually learn about animals, she pointed out, as she roamed among birds of prey and small mammals.
With regards to the "Shiur Acher" courses that she took in school, Chantal said she enjoyed the lessons on family business, and it's something she'd like to study at university one day.
For the faculty, too, Shiur Acher is an opportunity to learn and explore unfamiliar territory.
"I have learned the obvious, but sometimes you don’t see the obvious until it stares you in the face: These kids are just like any other sixth-graders – they are full of curiosity and desire to learn new things," said Prof. Langberg. "What I learned the most is that these kids are very much Israeli and that they belong here."
At the end of the day, as the children proudly marched one-by-one to receive their diplomas, their teacher told them that the "Shiur Acher" certificate was but a precursor to real bachelor's and master's degrees that many of them could earn in the future.