A thesis submitted in partial satisfaction of the
requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in
Special Education
Learning and Reading Disorders
Arlene Watson
January, 1979
The Thesis of Arlene Watson is apcroved:
California State University; Northridge
I wish to acknowledge the advice and direction of Drs. Phillip
Kulik, and Maurice Colwell.
Thanks are due to the many people in Israel who assisted me in
this project.·
I also wish to thank Dr. Marvin Cantor for his helpful advice and
encouragement during this study.
Arlene Watson
Master of Arts in Special Education
January, 1979
Because of the nature of child care practices on kibbutzim, the
possibilities exist for early detection of learning disorders among
kibbutz children.
The purpose of this study is to determine if early
detec.tion does take ·place, and to describe the facilities available
for the treatment of learning disorders among kibbutz children.
The study of kibbutz children lends itself to the possibility of
in-depth observation impossible in any other group on so large a scale.
Each child can be followed from birth, through the recorded observations of his caretakers.
physicians and parents.
These caretakers include nurses, teachers,
Because the child is in the daily care of so
many people who are trained in child development, the likelihood of
early detection of learning
cerebral dysfunctions and
emotional difficulties is much greater.
Theoretically, early detection and remediation of learning
disabilities among children living on
to take place.
Isra~li kibbut~im
may be expected
That the system does .not work ideally is in part, due
to the political, economic and philosophical problems unique to Israel
and the Middle East.
It is also due to a basic lack of communication
between the psychologists, psychiatrists and remedial teachers who
administer the program, and the teachers, who must implement the
in order for it to succeed.
"When our first child Gideon was born--he was the
first baby in the k.vutza--everybody fussed about him
and nobody knew what to do with h1m. Our women didn't
know how to look after babies. There was nobody whose
advice Miriam could ask. She found her own methods.
She took him to the vegetable plots and to the kitchen
and to the poultry-run. If she were in the cowshed she
put him down on the straw and the .cow licked him. The
whole of Degania cried over the baby: they cried because
they thought he would die of dirt~~.But Joseph Bussell
said: 'The children must belong to ·their parents but
the responsibility for them must be shared by all, in
this sense they are the children 6£ thekvutza. All the
women, whether single or married-,. should take part in
looking after them, then the mothers could do other work
as well. And the cost of the education of the children
must be borne by. the community as a whole.'"
Joseph Baratz
A Village by the Jordan
The Israeli collective farm, the kibbutz, is a unique phenomenon
of the twentieth century.
Although many attempts have been made by
idealists to establish economically viable centers of communal living,
today only the kibbutzim in Israel have survived.
The Israeli
kibbutzim, because of vast pressures from within and without, have had
to adjust, readjust and remain fluid in outlook in order to survive.
This aspect of kibbutz development should be kept in mind in a study of
the educational practices of the kibbutzim.
The early settlers of the kibbutzim were Zionists, convinced of
the rightness of their cause.
The two basic values which have remained
firm in kibbutz ideology have been service to the Jewish people and the
State of Israel, and the creation of a new communist society (Tiger &
Shepher, 1975).
It is the concept of service that most strongly has
kibbutz to the Zionist movement.
The kibbutz regards itself as the most radical means of
implementing Zionist ideas and goals--the building of the
country and the.rebuilding of the people (Tiger & Shepher,
p. 59).
The basic orientation of kibbutz ideology has been both collectivi~t
and future-oriented.
It thus followed that the institutions growing
up within this society would become communal institutions.
At first,
through necessity, the family gave over its basic responsibility of
child rearing to the community (Baratz, 1954).
All hands were needed
in the fields and women strongly felt that they should share in all the
burdens and work of kibbutz life.
Women were especially interested in
gaining equality and releasing themselves from the heavy stereotype of
the European family (Kurzweil, 1963).
The ideological goals of the
kibbutzim were clearcut from the outset; the individual was intrinsic
to the group.
The goals of the group were the goals of the individual
and to deviate from those goals was to denigrate the group.
Thus in
the communal society one shared equally in the economy and did not
strive for indiyidual recognition.
Eachkibbutz became in a sense an
extended family· and strove for equality in all things.
Inherent in the development of the kibbutzim has been the ideal
that education was not only the instrument to transmit knowledge but
was, indeed, the means by which the new society and the new culture
were to be.realized (Education inisrael, Report of the Select on Education, 1970).
In a planned, revolutionary, utopian community, the values,
norms-and role system must all be transmitted to the second
generation or the experiment will end with the founders.
Socialization and education, then, are expected to create a
new personality completely adapted to the exigencies of the
new society.
This assumption is itself utopian, and it
makes heavy demands on education (Tiger & Shepher, 1975,
p. 159).
The foremost fact to emphasize in a study of the kibbutz is that
it functions as a child-centered society.
Even in the pioneering days,
the concrete building was the Children's House, the best meals
went to the children, the best clothing was theirs, even though it
meant that the adults went without proper nourishment or warm clothes.
By extension, this emphasis upon the well-being of the children would
lead one to expec;t that kibbutz children receive the best possible
education, the best counselling, and have ·access to the best and most
complete help for those with special needs- •.
To·a large extent this has been·true, but only within the framework and economic possibilities of the kibbutz movement and the State
of Israel.
It is the purpose of this study to explore the educational
possibilities open to the children of the kibbutz movement, and to
discuss the type of help that is available to children with learning
Because it is not possible to lift an educational system out of
its own milieu and expect it to function in a different place and time,
_it is important to study differing educational systems within their
own philosophical and economic contexts.
This study will limit itself
to a description of the facilities available for children with learning
disabilities on selected kibbutzim in Israel.
Because of the marked
philosophical differences_ between kibbutzim, approaches to the problem
of the treatment of learning disabilities-vary.
By limiting this
study to the structure and organization of selected_kibbutz facilities
it is hoped a well-balanced study will be achieved.
In order to understand the expectations and philosophy of the
kibbutz movement today, some historical perspective is desirable:
first kibbutz was established at Degania in 1909.
As of 1975 there
were 240 kibbutzim in Israel with a population close to 100,000 (Tiger
& Shepher, 1975).
This comprises approximately 5% of the total popula-
tion of the State of Israel (Tiger & Shepher, 1975).
Each kibbutz
belongs to a kibbutz federation and each federation is aligned with a
political party.
There are three major federations:
Ichud Hakvutzot,
also called Ichud; Hakibbutz Hameuchad, also called Meuchad, and
Hakibbutz Haartzi, also called Aartzi (Tiger & Shepher, 1975).
The federation Ichud is aligned with the right wing political
party, Mapai.
The kibbutzim of Meuchad are aligned mainly with the
centrist party Ahdut Avoda, and the kibbutzim of Aartzi are aligned
with the left wing Mapam (Tiger & Shepher, 1975).
There are also
religious kibbutzim and .a few unaligned kibbutzim•
Within each federation one will find differing emphases and roles
for the educator and the parent.
Education in all kibbutzim is
collective in the sense that the kibbutz, as a whole, takes the
responsibility for the education of the children (Tiger & Shepher,
The means of education and the implementation of it are
established by the kibbutz as a group, and all of the children receive
twelve years education.
Each child's talents are identified as are his
special needs and handicaps.
From the outset, the system of kibbutz
education had to withstand, and be
by, public opinion and the
criticism of those whom it served (Oz, 1973).
Philosophically speaking, the least inhibited by ideological
principles are the kibbutzim of Ichud.
This federation has established
housing for nuclear families in about 25% of its kibbutzim (Kurzweil,
Partially this may be accounted for by the decline in the
numbe:t· of children, but it also ties in with the changing outlook of
the federation as a whole.
Instead of housing and schooling their
children in comprehensive communal quarters, the children are sent to
district schools run jointly by several kibbutzim.
In kibbutzim affiliated with
qne finds the decisive role
in education being filled by the professional educator with little
participation by the parent (Kurzweil, 1963).
This-is suited to the
rather stern outlook of the federation and its strict adherence to
communal rules.
Philosophically, the federation of Meuchad falls between Ichud
and Aartzi. · Meuchad has several large kibbutzim and utilizes some
district schools.
The possibility for change in regard to schools and
housing exists in this federation and may occur (Tiger & Shepher,
Religious kibbutzim function quite autonomously in respect to the
.politically motivated federations.
In religious kibbutzim. the parents
play a decisive role in decisions regarding their child's education,
and participate directly in the educational process.
There has been, and continues to exist within the kibbutz
federations, a strong emphasis upon education, and a strong desire by
the kibbutz movement as a whole to supply·the best education possible
for all of its children.
However, it was not until 1952 that the first
school in Israel with facilities for the minimally handicapped and
mildly retarded was set up at kibbutz Givat Haim Ichud.
this was the only school of its kind in the country.
For many years
As of 1970 Givat
Haim Ichud had primary level classes and secondary vocational classes
for 140 children.
Between 1958-1965 four additional kibbutz schools
opened on the same model and they cared for 82 children.
In addition
to these special schools, many kibbutzim have developed unusually
high-level individual programs for specific children.
It is these
programs that
be discussed later in this study.
Statement of ProQlem
of the nature of child care
on kibbutzim, the
possibilities exist for early detection of'learning.disorders among
kibbutz children •. The purpose of this study is to determine i f early
detection does take place, and to describe the facilities available for
the treatment of learning disorders among kibbutz children.
Importance of Problem
Children in all kibbutzim are cared for, from shortly after birth
until high school age, by a secondary caretaker called a metepelet
(Kurzweil, 1963).
The children spend the greater part of their day in
her care, and in the company of children of their own peer group.
.peer group lives in its own "Childrens House".
They eat their meals
play and sleep there and visit their parents' homes at pre-
scribed hours during the day, usually between 4:00 and 7:00p.m.
youngest children are put to bed at seven by their parents, and the
older children go to bed slightly later.
It is a general rule that
parents put their own children to bed,· and if there are several· children
this is a task that can take some time, as it involves going to each
separate Childrens House where each of their children may be.
The childrens' health is closely cared for by the resident kibbutz
nurse, and by a physician who may or may not reside on the kibbutz.
When the child begins kindergarten the metepelet will be joined by a
school teacher,
like the metepelet, lives on the kibbutz.
the child, by the age of five, has the close attention of parent,
· metepelet, teacher, nurse, and physician (Manor, R., personal interview,
At the suggestion of any of these people, and with the
cooperation of the kibbutz committee on education, the kibbutz may
request the services of a psychologist to test, observe and/or counsel
a child.
If necessary, the services of a remedial teacher may also be
Outwardly, this framework appears to support optimum conditions
for early diagnosis and remediation of learning disorders among young
It also appears to offer possibilities for follow-up and
study of the results of early diagnosis and remediation which would be
extremely difficult in a society less stable than that of a kibbutz.
Definition of Terms
There are four Hebrew terms that will be used extensively in this
The word kibbutz (pl. kibbutzim) means, simply, collective
(Ben-Yehuda, 1961).
It has come to denote a collective farm whose
members share tasks and responsibilities
In comparison to
this, the word kvutza (pl. kvutzot) means ttgroup", and has come to mean
collective farm with limited membership.
The kvutzot have
deliberately remained small, while the kibbutzim have grown very
rapidly (Tiger & Shepher, 1975).
A metepelet (pl. meteplot) may be
as an "educational ntn:'se"
& Shepher, 1975), although one might question this as a realistic
Perhaps "secondary caretakern might better define the role
of one who is expected to fulfill both mothering and caretaking duties.
The metepelet has no structured educational duties as such unless they
are suggested by the regular teacher.
Limitations of Study
This study is limited by three factors:
language difficulties,
lack of availability and organization of existing data, and differences
in training and philosophy between kibbutz teachers and professional
educators and psychologists.
There are many good general works in English concerning kibbutzim
and the philosophical background of kibbutz education.
However, the
few articles WTitten specifically on Special Education practices in
kibbutzim are written in Hebrew.
They are retrievable at the Library
of the School.of Education, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, but this
writer's research found that translations and reprints are not
available •.
In the process of interviewing for an informational study of this
sort it is especially important not to draw conclusions that are too
tightly structured.
In interviewing people whose first language is not
English one must realize the limitations of language usage and syntax.
Verb forms, in particular the more subtle conjugations of past, present
must be considered carefully in context.
La,ck qf Availability and Organization of Existing Data
4s Kaplan de Nour (1971) has pointed out and as my own research
has found, the nature of research in Special Education on kibbutzim
and the communication of that research is very limited.
Although each kibbutz federation maintains facilities for children
with learning problems there is no office of information or a general
clearing house familiar with publications and research in the field of
kibbutz education.
Thus one must contact the medical/psychological
directorof each clinic, who may put you in touch with specific
clinicians, who may put you in touch with kibbutz teachers of special
Existing data on specific children is plentiful, but
There are few meaningful longitudinal studies using
large samples, long time periods, or questions and hypotheses relevant
to the development or description of facilities- available for children
with learning disorders.
Differences in -Training
The field of Special Education in Israel is still very new.
within the last five years have clinical psychologists and psychiatrists been able to establish priorities for teacher training.
lnnovations and remedial programs in this field are still being
resisted by kibbutz teachers.
In conducting research for this study,
this author found that the feeling among special educators is that
although kibbutz classes are small, the kibbutz teacher would prefer
to have a child with learning difficulties removed from her class.
This would hold true even if the teacher were encouraged to participate
in a prqgram of remediation set up by the special educator.
There is an extensive program of workshops and training sessions
for kibbutz teachers, whose basic training, by U.S. standards, would
be considered inadequate.
In the past, this training has consisted of
two years of "teacher training" above four years of High School
_(Bulletin of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Jerusalem, n.d.).
This, however, is being replaced by more stringent requirements.
Graduates are now completing much more thorough programs at schools
such as the Levinsky Seminar of Tel Aviv University, and at Oranim,
the kibbutz teacher training branch of Haifa University.
difference in tr_aining and philosophy between professional educators
and kibbutz teachers still remains wide, and has as one of its
consequences a reluctance by kibbutz
to show innovation and
to adapt to new methods of dealing with learning disorders.
The study of kibbutz children lends itself to the possibility of
in-depth observation impossible in any other group on so large a scale.
Each child can be followed from birth, through the recorded observations of his caretakers.
These caretakers include nurses, teachers,
physicians and parents.
Because the child is in the daily care of so
many people who are trained in child development, the likelihood of
of learning disabilities, cerebral dysfunctions and
emotional difficulties is much greater.
Review of the Literature
the literature concerning facilities for children
with learning disabilities on Israeli kibbu;tzim one. is ·immediately
struck by two things.
First, aside from a few discussions within the
context of other studies, there is little literature dealing specifically with this subject.
Second, each discussion expresses widely
divergent viewpoints as to the means, methods and clinical facilities
available for children with learning disabilities.
Indeed, it becomes
exceedingly difficult to evaluate what few articles that do exist
because of the wide differences in methods used to diagnose difficulties at different clinics.
There are, however, several good books and articles dealing with
the history, philosophy and ideals of the kibbutz movement, as well as
several behavioral studies concerning kibbutz children.
as a whole, the literature in English
Viewed then
be divided. into the following
History, philosophy and ideology., including goals, of kibbutz
Behavioral studies of kibbutz children.
History, philosophy and ideology, including goals of kibbutz
During the centuries of the Diaspora, Jews throughout the world
remained bound to one another through the study of the Bible and
Talmud, and through the constant yearning for a return to the site of
their beginnings.
Palestine, by the 19th century had fallen into vast
Travellers came away shaken by the filth, disease and
abject poverty marking their journeys.
Jerusalem had become nearly
Outside of Palestine, however, was a growing group of
idealists, the forerunners of the Zionist movement, living in Europe
with a philosophical vision of the Israel of the future that was far
removed from the 19th century reality.
In a time span both histori-
cally and philosophically short these ill-prepared and naive
visionaries reformed a desolate land into a new country.
Through the historical studies (Baratz, 1954; Bentwich, 1965;
Braham, 1966; Kurzweil, 1963; Sachar; 1976) runs a thread of disbelief
that such an unlikely group of pioneers could have persevered and
succeeded in developing a new country.
There existed among the early
settlers a view that by coming to Palestine and working on the land,
they would automatically gain health and a philosophical freedom and
well-being for themselves and for their children (Jarus, 1970).
Indeed, many of the early settlers came to Palestine as a revolt
against the strictures of European Jewish society.
Certainly there
was a strong element of rebellion against the structure of the Jewish
family (Kurzweil, 1963) and the role it imposed upon its members.
settlers were deeply interested in the works of Freud, especially as
they so strongly supported
of opposition ·to traditional
Judaism (Kurzweil, 1966).
Concurrent with this rebellion grew a strong feeling of responsibility for Jews not only in Palestine, but throughout the world, a
as it were, of the larger meaning of the Jewish people as a
family (Jarus, 1970).
As the history of Palestine progressed and
Europe moved toward a war that to many minds was a war against the
Jews, the population of the kibbutzim became politically and philosophically more polarized and
.After World War II, and during the early years of the State of
Israel, there was a tremendous ingathering of immigrants.
Many of the
immigrants brought with them deep feelings that have influenced strongly the ways in which :they have brought up their children.
Parents who
survived the Holocaust have often been preoccupied with the health of
their children, and in many cases have been highly overprotective of
them (Bentwich, 1965).
This has been especially apparent in families
with handicapped children.
Throughout the development of the kibbutzim their educational
goals have been quite straightforward.
Equality of opportunity, the
morality of honest work and the full devel.opment of the group through
the work of all.of its members has been of prime importance (Braham,
1966; Klienberger, 1969; Kurzweil, 1966).
Within kibbutzim there exists a definite sharing of responsibility
for the educational and emotional well'-be:ing of the child.
The parent
and the professional educator share influence arid responsibility, and
in ideal situations are able to cooperate closely with each other.
some cases, ' this does not work out, but on the whole. parents are able
to accept the role of the professional educator.
The very nature of the kibbutz lends itself to shared interests.
The child, himself, is shared by the community -- the children are
often called "our children".
In many kibbutzim there is a definite
movement for the family to assume a wider role in the education of the
This would also include having the child live in the parent's
apartment, rather than having the child sleep in the children's house
with his peer group, as is most often the case.
In kibbutzim where
children do sleep in their parent's apartments, they go to the
children's house only during the day while the parents are away at
their work.
It is within the context of kibbutz society that one must consider
the goals of kibbutz education, and the influence of this society upon
the attitudes toward learning disabilities.
It must be remembered that the Special Educator on the kibbutz is
also goal oriented a.ccording to the philosophy of his kibbutz,
federation, and political party.
This will be true also of the
psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker and nurse within any of the
clinics or facilities set up by a kibbutz. federation.
That the means
of achieving these goals are different within each federation has
already been pointed out.
Behavioral studies of kibbutz children
In a review of behavioral studies three main factors seem
First, conclusions as to incidence, degree and nature of
symptoms of disabilities differ widely (Kaplan de Nour, A, 1971);
second, there are wide differences among kibbutzim, but there is a
tendency to generalize and seek unique characteristics of "the kibbutz
child" (Kaffman, 1972; Rabin, 1963; Schwartz, 1958; Spiro, 1958); and
finally, the necessity for adaptation and change in kibbutzim seems
largely to be overlooked, and is not taken into account (Kaplan de
Nour, 1971).
It should also be pointed out, that except for Kaffman
(1972), most studies have been done with small groups of children,
and in only one or two selected kibbutzim (Golan, 1958; Rabin, 1968;
Rabin, 1958; Spiro, 1971; Bettelheim, 1970).
Kaffman, writing in 1963, discus$ed a study of 403 kibbutz
children up to twelve years of age.
In this study he attempted to
discern i f kibbutz children showed a higher or lower percentage of
"elllOtional problems as compared with the conventional family pattern.
Although his results indicated that there was no. greater incidence of
behavior problems or deviant behavior characteristics among kibbutz
children, Kaffman remarked that "a disproportionately large number of
kibbutz children were referred for professional guidance" (Kaffman,
1963, p. 173).
Twelve to fifteen percent of the kibbutz child popula-
tion was treated in some way in 1962 at the clinic with which Kaffman
is affiliated (Kaffman, 1963).
With respect to this, one can ask if
this relatively large proportion, of "troubled" children is a fair
statistic, or if its magnitude is a consequence of early detection
It should be pointed out also that in a society in which
tremendous pressure is brought to bear upon each member of the group to
conform to group standards, any deviation from the normal would be
quickly detected, but not necessarily pointed out oracted upon.
Writing in 1972, Kaffman seemed more guarded in his remarks
concerning the frequency of disorders among kibbutz children.
of course, be circumspect when making comparisons with other
groups because of the different criteria adopted by the kibbutz in
determining a child's need for treatment." (Kaffman, 1972, p. 696).
Even more strongly, he stated, "We cannot draw any definite conclusion in view of the paucity and inaccuracy of comparative epidemiological data regarding the frequency of emotional disorders in
representative sampling of children of different age levels." (Kaffman,
1972, p. 696).
It should be noted that over the past twenty five years
Dr. Kaffman has done a great deal of significant work.
His studies of
kibbutz children have become much more thorough and his research
methods much more complete over the years.
His dismay at the lack of
norms for kibbutz behavioral research have been clearly stated throughout this time.
He points out the lack of systematic observation,
interviews, questionnaires, and psychological tests performed on small
samples of kibbutz adolescents
Although Kaffman is
noted in his field, and has conducted a twenty-year longitudinal study
concerning his work in the field, one must be cautious in appraising
his work, for it, too, often falls into the pitfalls of broad conclusions based on narrow samples.
The most striking problem among observers of the educational
system of the kibbutz is the lack of basic diagnostic criteria by
which these observations may be judged (Jarus, 1970).
There are thus
difficulties of communication between researchers in the field, which
has caused one researcher to come to the conclusion that it is not
possible to make a comprehensive statistical survey of the distribution
of psychological problems among kibbutz children (Jarus, 1970).
author tends to agree.
· The following information was obtained through a series of interviews held in the summer of 1977.
The informants included the
directors of the two major kibbutz clinics of the Federation Aartzi,
and psychiatris.ts, psychologists, social workers, remedial reading
teachers, special educators, kibbutz educators and meteplot from the
federations of Aartzi, Ichud and Meuchad.
They also included
professors of Education and Social Work at Hebrew University, members
of kibbutzim, the director of a large municipal Mental Health Clinic,
a psychia.trist at the same clinic, and many members of the general
public not directly involved in kibbutz affairs.
These people included
Special Educators in municipal (public) schools and members of many
families who expressed concern about their own school age children and
the educational and remedial opportunities offered throughout the
Isra.eli educational system.
The Kibbutz Mental Health Clinic was established in 1954 to serve
kibbutzim of the two largest kibbutz Federations,. Kibbutz Aartzi, and
Kibbutz Meuchad.
In addition, members of Hakihbutz Hadati, which are
religiously oriented kibbutzim, and members of Kibbutz Ichud are also
able to receive psychological services through this clinic and its
several branches.
This clinic serves approximately 150 kibbutzim
throughout Israel, located from the far northern area to Eilat on the
Red Sea, and including those kibbutzim located in the
The clinic serves as a diagnostic center, and provides therapy and
preventive assistance to "problem" kibbutz children and to adolescents
with emotional, developmental or neurological disturbances which "overburden and trouble either the child himself, his peers, parents,
educators or other figures in his surroundings." (Bulletin of Seminar
Hakibbutzim, 1974, p. 1).
The Kibbutz Child and Family Clinic is the largest of the
facilities serving kibbutz children; it has a large main clinic building
in Tel Aviv, directed by Dr. Mordecai Kaffman, and includes two suites
of offices in other parts of Tel Aviv.
There is a large clinic building
on the campus of Oranim, the kibbutz teacher training college outside
In addition, there is a clinic in Kyriat Shmona for kibbutzim
of-the Galilee; in Hadera, for the area of the Shomron and Emek Heffer;
offices in Eshel Hanassi, for the area around Beer-Sheva; and at Maale
Habesh for the kibbutzim of the Negev.
Because the kibbutz population is spread along all the borders and
in distant places, and because of the difficulty of travel between
border settlements and towns, there is a necessity for a good deal of
decentralization of services.
Clinic staff must travel long distances.
Often this leads to considerable autonomy of approach by staff responsible for distant kibbutzim.
Interviews with psychologists and
teachers who travel a great deal indicate that it is exceedingly difficult for the existing staff to cover the area fully.
The Clinic, in all its branches, consists of about 70 professional
workers, including seven psychiatrists, 22 psychologists, 20 psychiatric
social workers, 12 experts in special education, as well as experts in
music and dance therapy, rehabilitation and vocational orientation,
speech therapy and remedial reading.
part time positions.
Many of these people have only
It is interesting to note that these figures,
cited in the Bulletin of the Seminar Hakibbutzim published in 1974,
were cited as valid in interviews conducted in the summer of 1977 for
this thesis.
The clinic serves as a testing and diagnostic center, and in many
cases families come to the clinic for therapy.
Diagnosis and remedia-
tion in the Kibbutz Clinic is eclectic in nature.
The standard testing
tools are widely used; i.e., Bender, Wechsler, Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities (but with difficulties of translation), and each
workers' -own version of testing tools drawn from their.own experience
and clinical needs.
Variations of the "Draw a Man" test are also
widely used.
The Kibbutz Clinic started as a child clinic only for school
children, but gradually the age range has been expanded.
The director
of the clinic has noted that the family is now included, so that people
of every age range
and the clinic serves individuals from
"birth to the end of life" (Kaffman, interview, 1977).
About ten to fifteen percent of referrals to the clinic are for
children who have observable or "organic" problems.
These children illay
have neurological problems and they are considered children "at risk".
Dr. Kaffman defines these children as those who from the beginning of
their lives are different from other children.
These children have
difficulty from the first year of their life.
They are restless and
sleep little, or they may be very passive and have difficulty relating
as normal children do to the external environment and to stimulation
from outside sources.
These children often have feeding difficulties
because of poor muscle coordination.
and speech.problems.
They may have motoric problems
The clinic tries to detect these children very
early in order to help with what Kaffman calls a "compensatory type of
education", giving them more training in order to improve their skills.
Kaffman further states that the clinic has tried to determine the
percentage of these children in the total population of the kibbutz,
and it is felt that the figure is about three percent of the normal
. population.
it is also thought that this type of disorder contributes
about twenty to twenty-five percent of the exceptional children of the
kibbutz with problems.
However, only about ten to fifteen percent of
"organic" children are referred to the clinic because the kibbutz uses
its own facilities for treatment.
Thus not every kibbutz child with a
learning disorder actually comes into the clinic for treatment.
ever, as will be explained later, it is highly likely that he will use
the clinics' service in some way.
It should be noted that the word "organic" in relation to learning
disabilities is used widely by Israeli psychologists and teachers.
This appears to be a blanket term to cover any observable physical
dysfunction in children.
A child with poor motor skills may be classed
as "organic" but so might a hyperactive child.
The clinic treats another group of children which it does not
diagnose as "organic".
These children also have learning problems, but
these problems are considered to be "psychologically determined
problems" (Kaffman, 1977).
In these cases the child may have emotional
stress, family problems which disturb him, or some psychologically
based concern which keeps him from being able to function in all types
of areas, not only in the area of learning.
Indeed, Kaffman feels that
this is one -of the reasons that the kibbutzim send the child to the
clinic •. The kibbutzim are very concerned about the functional aspect
of the child.
If the child is not performing in school, it becomes a
matter of concern to everyone involved.
It is often the case that
kibbutz parents become more concerned that their child is not performing academically than with the fact that the child is aggressive and
disturbs the classroom (Kaffman, 1977).
Classroom behavior is con-
sidered to be important, but an aggressive child can be coped with.
Kibbutz educators have the training and capabilities to cope with
behavioral problems but when viewed from an academic point of view, in
light of the child's academic progress, the parents become very
concerned.In order to diagnose and remediate a child with problems, the
Child and Family Clinic follows an established procedure.
As the
largest of the clinics, not only in the federation of Aartzi, but all
of the other federations as well, the Child and Family Clinic in Tel
Aviv serves as the model for treatment of kibbutz children with learning disabilities.
The discussion below outlines in some detail the
procedures followed when a kibbutz child is considered to need the
services offered by this clinic.
This information was obtained through
interviews with psychologists, psychiatrists and remedial teachers
working at the clinic, as well as the director of the clinic.
In most cases, the kibbutz educator is the initiator of referrals
to the clinic.
The teacher may observe that the child is doing poor
academic work, or does not function well socially or emotionally.
teacher then will meet with the parents to discuss the problem.
If the
problem is one of academic learning difficulties, the teacher will
usually be the first person to observe the problem.
However, most
children with observable difficulties will be detected before they
reach school age.
Kaffman notes that although there are many referrals
of children of ·pre-school age, the clinic would like to see more.
young children, of course, are not referred because of academic problems
but because, as Kaffman notes, "they are disturbing their surroundings."
It should be emphasized that every effort is made to remediate the
child in his own environment.
The clinic psychologist will give both
the Special Educator and the kibbutz teacher all the counselling
necessary in order to help the child in his own surroundings.
In that
way it is not necessary for the child to be brought every few days or
weekly to the clinic.
The clinic tries to give at the kibbutz level
all the counselling,. advice and supervision that is possible.
kibbutz educator, the metepelet and toe Special Educator try to carry
out the remediation that the clinic advises.
However, before this
remediation can be prescribed, the following procedures take place.
The Development Clinic (a branch of the Child and Family Clinic also
located in Tel Aviv) receives all the background information possible
on the child in question.
Information about development, surroundings
and problems of the child is kept in an up-to-date file by all the
caretakers involved with the child on the kibbutz.
Included in the
file is usually a simple Draw-a-Man test, clinic-developed questionnaires filled out by the metepelet, comments by the kibbutz nurse or
physician, and any other connnents relevant to the child's development.
This file is evaluated at the Development Clinic by a staff psychoiogist.
There will also be samples of the academic work of the child
if he is of school age.
On the basis of this file, a member of the
Clinic staff will determine what kind of interviews and further tests
are appropriate for the specific child.
At this point, members of the
general clinic ·staff may be called upon to assist in evaluating the
After the evaluation of the child's file is complete the family,
teachers, and all of the caretakers will come to the clinic, in advance
of the child, for interviews to gain more complete data and to sunnnarize the problem.
Then the family, including the child, comes into
the clinic for a psychiatric and neurological evaluation.
The same day
a developmental psychological evaluation will be performed by a
Taking into account all of the above, other tests will
be perfarnied such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children or
the Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test •. If the child is of schooL-age,
he will be seen by experts in various academic fields:
A remedial
reading teacher, a speech therapist, and an expert in learning problems
and their diagnosis.
At this time, if necessary, the services of
experts on motoric problems, occupational therapy and music therapy
and an audiologist also might be consulted.
A meeting is then held
of all the professionals involved; at this time the case is studied
and methods of coordinating the case are discussed.
The type of advice
to be given and how this advice will be transmitted also is discussed
at this meeting.
Usually the family, teacher and child come on a
regular basis to·have follow-up evaluations and to discuss the details
of the remediation.
If, for example, the child is receiving help in
remedial reading and a program of remediation has
set up for the
kibbutz Special Educator, the child will return to the clinic monthly
for evaluation of his progress and to update or revise the remediation
If a psychiatrist prescribes drugs for a hyperactive child,
frequently will be checked for the effects of the drugs.
Sometimes, because it is very difficult to come fFom the South to Tel
Aviv, the psychologist or psychiatrist who regularly visits the kibbutz
will be asked to follow up on the remediation procedures so that the
family and the child need not make the trip too frequently.
The family is very seldom asked _to participate in remediation
procedures for the child; i.e., extra reading practice for the child,
motor skills practice.
This is considered a real burden to the family,
and in all of the interviews this author conducted no one felt that
this responsibility should be placed upon the family.
It is thought
better to improve the family atmosphere than to place more stress on
the child.
The feeling is that the parents will struggle with the
Thus all of the responsibilities both for learning and remedia-
tion are transferred to the school and to the Special Educator.
It is
felt that the most important thing is for parents to talk with a child
about everyday problems so the child can understand the normal processes of his own environment.
regular school program, a
Because the kibbutz facilities offer a
Educator, and the psychological
services of the clinic, parents are not expected to become involved in
teaching spelling or mathematics to their child.
There are roles that
parents are expected to play, and it is interesting to note that they
are definitely sex-defined (Tiger & Shepher, 1975).
is e.xpected to teach his son to play
and to teach his child to swim.
The kibbutz father
to ride a bike, or a horse,
The mother, on the other hand, is
expected to teach the child games of concentration and memory, how to
tie.his shoes, to appreciate the "gentler arts" or crafts and handwork
(Kaffman, interview, 1977).
It is considered to be extremely important
'that the time spent by parents together with their children should be
pleasant; their time together should not involve a conflict experience.
In the kibbutz, according to Kaffman (Interview, 1977) the pressure on
the child to succeed academically is much less marked than with city
We shall find later, however, that a good many kibbutz
educators feel differently about this point.
Kaffman (Interview, 1977)
also feels that the kibbutz offers much more respect for the individual
achievements of the child and states that the child feels less pressure
to conform (Kaffman, interview, 1977).
This, too, is not a subject of
universal agreement.·
In general, the kibbutz system of education lends itself to individualized learning.
Most of the kibbutzim, at least in the primary
work not from a system of frontal teaching, with a set teacher-
given lesson.
Rather, most of the teaching and learning takes place in
small interest groups, largely initiated by the children themselves.
Ideally, each child is accepted according to his own learning pattern,
and by the degree of advancement and progress he achieves in his
If it is observed that a child is having difficulty learning
the teacher will try to give him more help.
This is greatly facilitated
by the fact that most kibbutz classes are small, having anywhere from
five to fifteen children.
Next in importance to the Tel Aviv Child and Family Clinic is the
F.amily Guidance Clinic at Oranim.
Manor is the director of this
clinic, and through interviews with her and members of her staff, I
wasable to gather the following information.
There are, of course,
similarities between the procedures of this clinic and those of the
Child and Family Clinic in Tel Aviv.
However, it is interesting to
note the impot'tance placed upon the role of the Kibbutz Connnittee for
Special Education, and the role this group pl.ays in the decision making
process of the kibbutz.
The clinic at Oranim is the chief
for kibbutzim in the
with the Child and Family Clinic in Tel Aviv, this clinic is
set up to work with kibbutzim of the Federations of Aartziand Meuchad.
However, there are cases of kibbutz members from the Federation of
Ichud being referred to this clinic, because it is more convenient.
Before a case from Ichud is accepted, Oranim requests permission from
the lchud Family Clinic located in Tel Aviv.
This appears to be a
matter of some importance (Manor, 1977).
There are at present 40 members of the team at Oranim, not all
full time.
This team includes three psychiatrists, each working only
one day a week, and psychologists, social workers, and art therapists.
About fifty percent of the team are kibbutz members, and fifty percent
· are not.
The fifty percent who are not kibbutz members are people who
are hired from the outside to come to the clin:i..c to work.
There are
some students now taking their Masters Degree in Special Education
through Haifa University who are doing their work at Oranim.
It is
interesting to note.that many of these students are people who may have
been working for twenty years as educators in their own kibbutz, and
who are only now taking an academic degree.
When the possibility of
further education arises, the kibbutz sponsors the student, or use is
made of one of the various scholarships available.
Indeed, Mrs. Manor,
the director of the clinic, held a scholarship ·for study in the United
States, given by the National Council of Jewish Women (Manor, interview, 1977).
The college at Oranim is connected with Haifa University and
serves as the major training institute for kibbutz teachers.
clinic itself is autonomous but acts as a further placement opportunity
for students in the School of Social Work.
Third year students who
wish to do field work in kibbutzim are supervised by the Social Workers
on the clinic staff and work directly in kibbutzim.
The following is a description of what Mrs. Manor calls the
"Aartzi model" of referral to the clinic.
It differs from that
described by Dr. Kaffman, and is interesting in the light of the
emphasis placed upon the responsibility of the kibbutz as a whole,
through the representation of the Kibbutz Education Committee.
In every kibbutz federated with Aartzi, there is a five-member
Committee for Special Education.
Within the kibbutz this is the group
to whom parents and teachers may go for assistance.
meets every week or two as needed.
The committee
The meetings are open, and parents
and teachers come to the committee to discuss whomever they may wish
to refer for special help.
When there is any problem pertaining to a
child, or between parent and educator, the people involved go to the
Special Education Committee and state the problem.
There are then all
kinds of
for solution.
it may be only a personal
talk by a committee member to the people concerned.
Sometimes the
committee feels that more than just talking is necessary; then they
will call in the Special Educator for the kibbutz.
Indeed, the teacher
may ask the committee for the assistance of the Special Educator.
that case both the teacher and the metepe1et are invited to attend the
·committee meeting.
Sometimes the committee will decide that the
teacher and the metepelet need guidance in remediating the child's
problems, and will ask for help from the kibbutz Special Educator, who
will work with the teacher and metepelet to assist the child.
After all the possibilities have been surveyed, and the facilities
. of the kibbutz have been exhausted, it may be decided that either the
parents or the child or both need help at Oranim, and they will then be
referred to the clinic for diagnosis.
The Special Education Committee
acts as the "bridge" between the kibbutz and Oranim in matters
ing to 'the child (Manor, _1977).
If, however, the problem concerns only
adults, the adult may refer himself directly to Oranim.
The Special Education Committee consists of a member of the
kibbutz medical staff, and must include people who work with children
of each age group on the kibbutz.
This might include meteplot from
the nursery and teachers ·and meteplot working with kindergarten,
primary and upper grades, and l..rill also include the kibbutz Special
Other kibbutz committees must have a rotation of member-
ship, but this particular committee remains the same, often for many
years, because it must hold the trust of the entire kibbutz.
committee discussions and decisions must be discreet and very fair,
and members must be respected for their good judgement (Manor, 1977).
Although a person may refer himself directly to Oranim for help,
there is also a committee on each kibbutz concerned with the mental
health of adults.
As services at Oranim are not free, someone (and in
most cases this involves a committee) at the kibbutz level must make
the decision for a person to go to Oranim for treatment (Manor, 1977).
The kibbutz itself pays for the services, rather than the Federation.
However, once the committee decides that a person needs help, the
money for payment of fees is always forthcoming.
It is strongly felt
that one should not be denied whatever assistance he needs, and the
money is always found within the budget to pay for whatever treatment
is needed (Manor, 1977).
In the 1950's when the Special Education Committees were set up
on the kibbutziffi, many parents felt it was shameful to have to go to
the Special Education Committee to ask for help, or to be referred to
the clinic.
Today children and adults are rather free about it.
great deal of· ·educational work has
done concerning the necessity
of seeking help for people with problems.
The younger children and
their parents are much freer and comfortable today asking for and
receiving help from the Special Educator and the clinic (Manor, 1977).
However, much less work has been done among the high school students
· to change their attitudes toward Special Education.
Although it varies
from high school to high school, in general, older students show much
less willingness to ask for help and a greater reluctance to accept
There are also cultural differences at work.
In kibbutzim in
which the first generation came from Eastern Europe the attitudes
toward learning problems and psychological problems in general
do not
encourage asking for assistance, especially if it will involve going
· ou·tside the kibbutz for help.
However, in kibbutzim whose founder
members have been American, very different attitudes are held toward
thetreatment of special education problems.
To them, it has always
been normal to ·ask for help when it was needed.
Presently the second generation of kibbutz members are either
Israelis or come from Western Europe or the United States.
cultural change has helped to establish a stronger positive attitude
toward seeking help.
Among members of kibbutzim a major concern centers around the
philosophy that each person should be given every opportunity to
develop his own potential.
As Kurzweil (1963) has pointed out, the
kibbutz is essentially a democratic institution, and learning and
education are very central to this philosophy.
In the early days of the
the psychologists and Special
Educators were deeply influenced by the Freudian vogue in central
Europe (Kurzweil, 1963).
Psychoanalysis and the influence of neuroses
were much considered in the treatment of disorders of all kinds.
the early days of kibbutz education educators said that if a child had
not learned by first or second grade, this was an indication of a
symptom of neurosis.
It was felt, then, that the learning disorder
came from neurosis, and the child was treated for this "neurosis"
throughout third grade, then fourth, then fifth, and still the child
could not read, and by then his problem was compounded by failure and
peer pressure (Manor, 1977).
Kibbutz teachers today_are encouraged
very strongly to begin diagnostic and remedial assistance if a child
does not read fluently by the end of the first grade.
Indeed, there
are kibbutzim who administer maturity tests to children going from
kindergarten into the first grade (Manor, 1977).
This practice differs
according to the federation of the kibbutz, and is influenced by agegrouping practices in kibbutz schools.
In Ichud schools, there may
be children in one kindergarten group encompassing an age group of
three to six years.
In Aartzi, however, homogeneous grouping is the
rule, with only one age level per grade and peer group.
The kinder-
garten teacher starts with her group of three year olds and continues
- with tliem; it is strongly felt that the teacher does not need to use
a maturity test to tell her if a child is ready to read.
The teacher
is expected to be competent and astute enough to observe any difficulties a child may be having that might interfere with his readiness
to read.
The kindergarten teacher works individually with each child.
there is a child who cannot learn with his peer group, everything
possible is done to assist him.
The kindergarten teacher prepares the
group for first grade, and makes every attempt to prepare each child
to move forward with his own peer group.
Only in extreme cases will a
child be moved to a different peer grpup because of academic or social
The feeling is strong that it is much more desirable to
help the child within his own pe_er group.
If it is deemed necessary
to move a child from his own peer group (downward in age level for the
slow learner, upward for the gifted child), it is done only after
serious consideration.
If the move is downward to a lower age group,
it means a major shift for the child.
The child must move his
ings to a different children's house, and become integrated into a new
peer group.
Since moves are not then remade upward, this new peer
group is made up of the children with whom he Will remain through his
growing up.
The groups are not mixed until high school, where in many
cases students-from several kibbutzim go to one central high school.
Because of the seriousness of a peer-group shift, the Special Education
Committee considers such a step carefully.
There is a member of the Oranim clinic visiting the Northern.
kibbutzim every month, and the child with problems is usually referred
to this clinic member for observation.
Together with the parents,
teacher, metepelet and connnittee, this troutside observer" (Manor, 1977)
program of remediation for the child.
It is hoped that this
observer will be able to see the child with more objectivity than those
withwliom the child has daily contact, and he will be able to assist
the committee to see the child from all points of view.
If a peer-group move is decided upon, the educators and parents
involved are assisted by the committee and the Special Educator to
prepare both peer groups of the child to be able to accept the child
and his problem.
This involves a good deal of preparation of the
. children involved and a well-defined program of follow-up for them.
Friendships in the new peer group are especially supported, and the
strengths of any special relationships of the child with the new group
are emphasized.
At least one of the educators will try to establish
a special contact with the child, inviting him to "come play with us"
or "join us in a trip."
All of the clinic workers with whom this author spoke emphasized
that referrals to the clinics are coming at an earlier and earlier age.
Sometimes referrals come for children as young as two years old, and
many come for kindergarten children.
In a "normal" family setting, when parents have one child, they
have little opportunity for comparison.
But in the kibbutz, the
parents visit the children's house daily, and have contact with many
It is thus more likely that parents will notice differences
between their child and others in his peer group.
More and more
educators and parents are concerned about behavioral manifestations,
i.e., the hyperactive child or the child who has difficulty concentrating, and many kibbutz parents are not waiting until the problem is
manifested by academic failure.
There are other, more discreet problems of kibbutz children that
may manifest themselves socially.
Consider the case of the child
whose father was killed in the Yom Kippur war.
The metepelet or the
teacher may feel that a "substitute father" would be of help to the
child by doing some of the things a father would do with his child.
Although it would seem to be a fairly straightforward request to ask
one of the young men on the kibbutz to be a special friend to this
child, the teacher would not make this request without first consulting
with at least one of the members of the Special Education Committee.
The teacher is by no means autonomous.
She works as a member of a
team, and, as such does not make unilateral decisions concerning the
child's education.
She also is a member of the kibbutz community and
needs the support and approval of those with whom she lives.
As Tiger
andShepher (1973) have pointed out, the kibbutz functions as a "glass
house," everyone is aware of what everyone is doing, and the schoolteacher is no exception.
Kibbutz Priorities
The founders of the early kibbutzim were very intellectual and
ideological, but they interrupted their studies in Europe in order to
come to Israel to work under the harshest of conditions.
As Sachar
(1976) has pointed out, many of the tracts of land upon which kibbutzim
were originally developed were not chosen for their desirability as
agricultural land, but rather as strategic settlements.
In many cases,
it was the only land that could be purchased from the Arab landowners.
The highest priority of the pioneers was to establish a new Socialist
society, through the work of their own hands.
By communally sharing
the tasks, men and women could be free to share in cultural activities,
debates and study.
One sees in the kibbutz movement a group of highly
motivated, intellectual people, to whom the value of physical work is
of the highest importance.
There has always been a conflict between
those who feel that academic work, such as university teaching, is most
and those who feel that physical work is of the highest
The highest status today is afforded one who is rooted in
the kibbutz and who works in the agricultural affairs of the kibbutz.
It is interesting to note, in light of this, the importance that
parents attach to the academic achievements of their children, and this
will be discussed more fully in the next section.
One of the basic tenets of kibbutz life has been that it is a
"child-centered" society (Gerson, 1974; Jarus, 1970).
kibbutzim there are differing opinions about this.
Among members of
The treasurer of
the kibbutz would say that education receives the greater share of the
kibbutz budget.
The educators would say that it is not enough.
the kibbutz needs an agricultural machine, it is bought with little
On the otherhand, if the educator asks for something for
the children's house, he has to work hard to justify it (private interviews, 1977).
Today the priorities for children are not as high as
they used to be.
In older kibbutzim the living quarters for members
may be better than those for the children, because the children may
still be living in the older houses.
In newer kibbutzim where
children's houses are still being built, the children may have excellent facilities.
Educators on the kibbutz would say that not enough
money is being spent to train people, but farm people and the
treasurer would say that education is of the highest priority
fact, that it is too high.
There are difficulties in evaluating these
points of view, and it comes down simply to who you are, what you do,
··and what your. priorities are.
In any modern society, economic priorities play a great part in
shaping the actions of a group.
The kibbutz is no exception.
In the
Federations of Ichud- and Meuchad each member of the -kibbutz has his
own personal budget; this includes stipends for clothing, furniture
and special personal expenditures.
If a member does not use his yearly
budget, he may add that to his furniture budget and buy some-
thing special with it.
Indeed, he may save up all of his budget and
buy some fairly grand items.
often done.
This takes time, to be sure, but it is
In the Federation of Aartzi, however, each member has one
stipend for each necessary area.
The important difference is. that it
may not be saved up or added onto in order to make one lump sum.
it is not spent during the year it is received, it is likely that it
may not be used at all, and will have to be used for other kibbutz
If the kibbutz has a bad year economically, the entire
kibbutz assembly has to decide upon its priorities in view of the
economic situation.
Although most kibbutzim try to be as economically
independent as possible, they still must be under government subsidy.
When the kibbutz has a really poor year economically, it is entitled
to borrow money from the Federation at low interest, but in extreme
cases it is sometimes necessary to borrow from banks or other sources
at much higher rates.
necessities under these circum-
stances becomes exceedingly difficult and involves the entire kibbutz.
In this section, the discussion has centered upon the diagnostic
methods possible to assist kibbutz children with learning
This discussion, however, was from the point of view of
the directors of the major kibbutz clinics involved in this study.
many ways, it expressed what may be called the "ideal" situation, considering how the system should work, not necessarily how it does work.
Following is a discussion based upon
with some of the
psychiatrists, psychologists and remedial experts involved in the
Because the following_ interviews have been given confiden-
tially, the participants have not been personally identified.
Kibbutz Center for Child Development
nrls. Center is a branch of the main clinic in Tel Aviv, under the
direction of Dr. E. Darin.
Following are the results of interviews
with professionals working there.
Sarah is not a member of a kibbutz; rather, she began as an
instn1ctor at the University in Tel Aviv.
She now works half-time in
teacher training activities for the Kibbutz Family and Child Guidance
Clinic, and with the psychologists at the Center for Child Development.
She does see children, but her basic work in the kibbutz Federation is
in teacher training and the organization of teaching workshops.
with the other psychologists with whom this author spoke at this
clinic, Sarah feels very strongly the lack of training in teachers and
She is especially concerned with the difficulty of
teachers, psychologists and teacher-helpers in organizing and realizing
a set of goals and aims for children, and in following them through.
She sees a definite .split between those who consider teaching as an
expressive/creative endeavor and those who see it as existing within a
She, herself, thinks that teaching is better for children
when the teaching program is structured.
Sarah thinks that most children are referred to the clinic because
of behavior problems, and that they are referred by teachers who want
. to get rid of the problem, rather than to look for an remediate the
In the clinic she sees many children with reading difficul-
ties and believes there is a correlation between poor reading habits
and emotional problems.
She thinks that the communal living habits,
and especially the sleeping arrangements in kibbutz children's houses,
cause "many problems."
She is very concerned about t_he "unstructured
learning habits" of kibbutz children.
Sarah strongly states that kibbutz tea"chers ar·e "not skilled,"
i.e., they do not.teach effectively in a structured way, and she notes
that kibbutz teachers value their autonomy very highly.
One of
Sarah's jobs is to help kibbutz teachers organize their own seminars,
goals. and workshops on the kibbutzim.
She has great difficulties with
teachers in this matter, as she states that kibbutz teachers tend not
to follow through on these projects and prefer to "do it themselves,"
following the kibbutz philosophy of individuality.
This will be dis-
cussed further in the interviews with kibbutz teachers.
Upon questioning, Sarah gives as her definition of learning disabilities as "not giving a good performance" in hearing, vision, reading, language and writing.
She is very concerned with the academic
performance of children, and feels that if the quality of teaching can
be improved, the performance level of children will go up.
Sarah is also concerned with the many instances of nightmares and
night fears among children ages four to six.
This she ascribes to the
kibbutz practice of children sleeping without their parents or an adult
in the children's house.
Among her duties, Sarah has three kibbutzim which she serves as
consultant and visits once a month.
She observes special classes at
these kibbutzim and· talks to the teachers in these classes.
She feels
it is much more effective to work with kibbutz teachers "in their own
She discusses peer relationships with the teachers, and
gives each teacher a questionnaire to be filled out for each child.
are updated and discussed quite frequently, as
of th~ child'$ work, comments of the teacher, and Sarah's ·
She feels strongly that kibbutz teachers fail in not looking
for the gestalt of a child.
It is also her opinion that teachers make
too many V€1-lue judgelllents on their own and fail to involve the parents
to a great degree.
Esther is a·. teacher/psychologist who appears to _be deeply involved
with her work, deeply concerned with what ·she feels is her lack of
expertise and anxious for assistance and d1rection "in the field of
learning disabilities.
She is writing a curriculum for the Ministry
of Education for Special Education.
She feels that there "are no
experts here", that the field is "very new" and that workers in Israel
are ".in the· dark".
At the clinic where she works, a branch of the
Family and Child Guidance Clinic close to downtown Tel Aviv, children
are referred from Federations of Meuchad and Aartzi, and sometimes
from Ichud.
She sees children from ages five through thirty-five.
As Esther sees it, the main problem of learning disabilities lies
· in reaaing, and to this she also relates dysgraphia and poor spelling.
She is extremely concerned at the number of children who cannot read.
Esther's basic work is with children ages eight through ten.
approach is eclectic.
She uses as evaluation tools the Bender Visual-
Motor Gestalt Test, the Frostig Developmental Tests of Visual. Perception and does use the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities but
finds it very long.
She uses the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for
Children arid also uses many tests that she has put together from varying sources, and relies a good deal upon visual, perceptual and
coordination tests collected under the direction of Dr. Mordecai
Esther feels that many kibbutzim prefer not to_ send young children
to the clinic, unless the
of the child is very obvious.
thinks that, in general, the kibbutz attitude is "Give i t time, and i t
will go away".
Kibbutz parents,
to Esther, will not come for
help unless they have no choice.
Many children are finally sent to
the clinic at the age of twelve or thirteen, but Esther feels that by
that time it is really "too late" •.
As a psychologist, Esther asks for a screening for learning disa-
bilities during Kindergarten but few teachers do it.
this to three causes:
Lack of
She ascribes
lack of sensitivity, and
The Center for Child Development encourages teachers to
screen early and sets up training programs for
teachers in
order to teach them the skills necessary to carry through a screening
Esther tries to trace family problems by seeing the younger child;..
ren of·a family, and feels this may be of help in diagnosing and
remediating the well as preventing further family problems.
Esther divides learning disabilities into two sections:
The mentally
retarded, or near retarded ("organic dysfunction"}, and the average
child with technical problems (reading, spelling, etc.).
Esther thinks that kibbutz teachers-have great difficulty accepting "the other", i.e., the child who is in any way different.
would much rather have a child removed from their class (even though
classes are very small) than to have to work on a remedial program
with that child.
As a member of a highly interactive community there
is a great deal of pressure upon the kibbutz teacher.
a very small socie-ty.
Parents tend to blame the teacher for a child's
problems, and the teacher
one feels guilty".
She is part of
the parents and the child and "every-
There are constant daily meetings of parent and
teacher, both socially and in the context of the school.
If a program
of remediation has been put into
and no visible change has
occurred in the child within two or three months~ the parents want to
know why.
Three months, to a kibbutz parent, is
long time.
though the parents may have avoided.diagnosis and remediation of a
child's problems for years, once they accept the fact of the disability they want instant results.
Because the kibbutz connnunity is so involved in the lives of its
families and of its children, the child is
sense of constant demands for improvement.
"overtreated" in the
The kibbutz itself is very
selective and kibbutz parents generally have high intellectual
ambitions for their children.
There is, indeed, a great difference
betweeh a rational acceptance of a child's problems and an emotional
acceptance of those problems.
•Kibbutz Aleph
Irini is a schoolteacher in Aleph who teaches a first.grade class
of six year olds.
In discussing the treatm"ent of cbildren with learn-
ing problems, she expressed concern over those children (two) in her
class who have not yet learned to ·read.
She says she must "do· what she
'Can", but she is reticent to call upon the psychologist in Tel Aviv for
help because the psychologist "is very busy", "has very little time for
follow up", and "it is very difficult to follow a. program of remediation".
She would prefer to work out her own solutions rather than to
depend on someone so far away, and she would also prefer to give the
child some more time "to grow out of it".
She, like other kibbutz
·teachers, is requiredto attend workshops and seminars, but she does
so unwillingly, and goes because it is required.
She is concerned with
the difficulties involved in diagnosing a child with discreet learning
disabilities and seems to know little about testing procedures or about
learning disabilities in ·general.
(In this she is no less knowledge-
able than an average teacher of normal children in the United States.)
Irini is very much aware, however, of the relationship of behavioral
problems and learning disabilities.
She noted that as children get
older those with learning disabilities find academic subjects more
confusing and less rewarding and they begi.n acting out aggressions and
Irini's emphasis was upon her feeling of the necessity to cope by
herself rather than to call upon_availabJ.e help, and her belief that to
get help is difficult and/or not worth the time and effort involved.
There is no question that Aleph is
It is
isolated physically; the main road closes at 6:00p.m., and it is
dangerous to travel the alternate road.
out a gun and in groups.
One would not travel it with-
The border of Lebanon skirts Aleph's orchards
and terrorists make frequent attempts to get through the border fence.
There is, besides, a philosophical isolation as well as a physical one.
It can be argued that this isolation and danger are among the reasons
people go to Aleph in the first place.
For whatever reason, the need
for self-sufficiency is strong.
The meteplot on Aleph, as in other kibbutzim, feel the need for
authority and recognition.
They complain that parents do not do what
they are asked, do not care for their children the way they (the meteplot) wish, and in general they feel that they have a difficult job
under difficult conditions.
They strongly feel the close scrutiny of
.the parents and of the kibbutz as a whole.
Aleph is unusual in its high percentage of children.
150 members, and 150 children.
There are
Each person on this kibbutz interviewed
by this author referred to this high percentage of children with pride,
and referred to their kibbutz as a "baby factory".
Kibbutz Bet
A schoolteacher in kibbutz Bet since its founding, Hannah is about
sixty years old and now supervises the educational program at a new
kibbutz in the north.
She does this one day a week as well as organiz-
ing classes and workshops for other teachers, and teaching a class in
'the kibbutz, although she considers hetself to be retired.
To the question "Do you see more children now with learning disabilities than you did in the past?", she answered definitely, yes.
She thinks that the continuing wars in Israel, and the violence on TV
and in films have made a strong impact upon children and it has given
them very different attitudes from those they held in the past.
increase of affluence in the kibbutzim also plays a part, and although
she does not believe her kibbutz to be, particularly well off, she
points with pride to the many new and very modern buildings being constructed to house the children, and to the new library and very
comfortable assembly hall.
She herself lives in a small but comfort-
able house.
At Bet there is a Special Educator who tutors children with special
problems and who works with a psychologist from the central clinic in
This psychologist sets up the remedial programs for the
tea,cher to follow, and the teacher works with children individually,
taking them out of their peer groups for special study times.
does not feel that the child senses any stigma attached to going to the
Special Educator; rather, the child feels better about school when he
is able to succeed rather than fail.
She also does not believe that
children of the peer group consider going to the Special Educator as
demeaning in any way.
Children who have severe learning disabilities are sent to the
clinic in Kiryat Shmona or to Tel Aviv for further testing and remediation.
in spite of continued
the child's behavior is
excessively deviant or difficult, the child, as an extreme measure,
will be sent to the special school at Kibbutz Givat Haim Ichud.
child may return home on weekends and holidays, but he will board at
the school throughout the week.
Although it is considered to be quite
a good school, some psychologists with whom this author spoke feel that
it il!l not how as good as it once was.
On kibbutz Bet there are 600 people who live on the kibbutz.
these, 300 are members and 300 are volunteers.
Within this figure
there are 60 children under fifteen years of age.
Hannahbelieves that the effect of a continuing state of war has
strongly affected the children.
She ascribes much of the increase in
learning disabilities to fears of war, and an implacable belief by the
children in the Arab as an enemy who wants to kill children.
to Hannah, no amount of discussion can convince kibbutz children that
the Arab is a person who also has families and feelings.
She sees this
attitude as a direct cause for night fears and the outspoken aggressive-ness of many kibbutz children.
Wizo-Canada Research Center
This Research Center serves as a training center for teachers from
Bar Ilan and Hebrew Universities.
In this·program·are from 500-700
teachers, and a number of social workers,. psychologists and counsellors
are included in workshops.
Workshops for kibbutz teachers are also
organized here. ·
_In many cases, this clinic is now used as a haven for "hopeless"
cases by families who have tried everything else_.
The clinic tends to
be chaotic, with children and workers moving in and out of the rooms,
listening, talking and interrelating with one another.
A good deal of
whatgoes.on at the Institute relies upon the personality of the
director, Dr. Reuven Feurstein.
He is everyone's ideal grandfather
First impressions lead one to
that he is very kindly,
an extremely sensitive and knowledgeable observer of behavior, and a
very capable teacher.
He has the ability to concentrate fully upon
the subject at hand and is highly individualized in his approach.
is also much respected in the European sense of professor.
The clinic itself is supported by Haddassah funds and some
·research grants from J e\vish funding sources in Canada and the U.S.
There are psychologists, social workers and teachers on the staff, and
a psychiatrist who comes in on call.
In the summer of 1977 the clinic
·was working with 250 active cases, wl:th 200 cases on the waiting list
or being dealt with in a minimal way.
by the Social Welfare
Cases are referred to the clinic
the Jerusalem Municipality or private
Parents who have heard of Feurstein send their "hopeless"
cases to him.
There is no fee for services.
Cases range from severe
functional defects to discreet learning disabilities.
In most cases
of discreet learning disabilities, the term "culturally deprived" is
In some cases, kibbutz children are referred to this clinic,
but the greater part of the influence of this clinic lies in the
program of workshops it sets up.
for kibbutz
Many of these workshops are organized
these workshops consist of weekend meetings,
two-week conferences, or weekly classes on a University level.
Basic to Feurstein 1 s method is what he calls the "concept of
In other words, a child must be directed to make a
sharp departure from his predicted course, i.e., the course "predicted"
by his peers·or parents by their expectations of him.
Once "predicted"
a child continues on his course unless it is modified.
believes that the possibilities for positive change in a child are much
greater than teachers are ordinarily trained to believe.
uses this concept of modifiability when working with the children in
his clinic.
In assessing a child at this clinic, a great deal of material is
The standardized tests used include the Wechsler Intelligence
Scale for Children, the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Ability, the
Frostig Developmental Tests of Visual Perception, and the Bender Visual
Motor Gestalt Test.
In addition to these tests, Dr. Feurstein has
·added his own visual perceptual tests, and manipulative, shape, size
and color tests.
The "manual" for all of this is a massive volume put
together by Dr. Feurstein, and used by many of the psychologists at
the Child and Family Guidance Clinic in Tel Aviv and throughout the
When a remedial program is set up for a child, the procedures to
be used are based on "concepts of modifiability 11 with small, definite
goals in mind.
As each goal is met, the cliild progresses one step
further and another goal is set.
Children are given free run of the
They come in and out of rooms, enter discussions, and seem to
be totally accepted as part of the program.
The conclusion of this study is built in to the study itself.
Theoretically the possibility for early detection and remediation of
learning disabilities among children living on Israeli kibbutzim exists
almost ideally.
That the system does not work ideally is in part due
to the political, economic and philosophical problems unique to Israel
and the Middle East.
It is also due to a basic lack of communication
between the psychologists, psychiatrists and remedial teachers who
administer the program, and teachers, who must implement the program
in order for it to succeed.
"In case of a terrorist attack everyone
goes to their station at the children's
houses, never to the shelter. Fathers
who have children in the children's houses
go there with their guns to protect the
children; the meteplot go ·there to comfort
the children, everyone else stays in their
home. The first place terrorists go is to
the children's houses to try to capture our
Ki.bbutznik, Malkia
Two weeks following
an attempted terrorist
attack on the kibbutz.
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