The non-political classroom: The (dis)missed opportunities of an Israeli multicultural-bilingual high school civics course

Aviv Cohen*, Zvi Bekerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The body of research on civic education points to the importance of teachers creating open democratic environments, leading to what has been termed the political classroom. This yearlong study of an Israeli multicultural and bilingual high school civics course, in which students from different citizenship status participated, presents a case in which teachers were unsuccessful in achieving this goal, raising the question of what limited this class's potential to create an educational environment where democratic discourses could have taken place? The main argument points to Israel's current disputative political environment that led to the enactment of four educational mechanisms that resulted in such a futile reality. These included: conflicting objectives, avoiding discussion of controversial issues, implementing traditional teaching practices, and overlooking language issues. The neo-liberal educational environment and a culture of fear and self-censorship were both identified as a common explanation to these, leading to an educational reality in which there was a detach between the lessons and the students' transcultural lived political experiences. From a methodological perspective, the study illuminates the importance of focusing on such unsuccessful cases, examining their elements, and understanding what influences them.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Social Studies Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

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  • Bilingual education
  • Civics
  • Classroom environment
  • Israel
  • Multicultural education

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