Expanding their future: The social use of education
|About the Book|
Adolescent girls in an Arab village in Israelis Galilee work exceedingly hard in order to excel in their high school studies, and succeed in doing so. This research delves into the reasons for their high motivation. The dissertation is based on aMoreAdolescent girls in an Arab village in Israelis Galilee work exceedingly hard in order to excel in their high school studies, and succeed in doing so. This research delves into the reasons for their high motivation. The dissertation is based on a year of participant-observation I conducted as a high school (co-ed) teacher within the community. Results show that girls believe that excellence in school increases their chances for broader social freedoms as women.-The lives of women in the Galilean village are constrained by many cultural norms, restricting their ability to influence the course of their lives. Excelling in school is an effective avenue to exert agency on their personal and collective futures that enjoys wide cultural approval. In broad terms, excelling in school improves a young womans attractiveness as a bride for more desirable men, i.e., men possessing academic degrees who are typically more open-minded, allowing their wives certain social freedoms and who are less likely to suffer debilitating poverty faced by so many of the members of the Arab community in Israel. In addition, the reputation as an excellent student encompasses a list of culturally desirable traits, such as hard-working, loving, loyal, diligent, of high morals, a good partner when discussing family issues, a good tutor for the children, and a capable mother. Another obvious avenue to increased social freedoms through excelling in school is the opportunity to continue academic training and possibly pursuing a profession, as the most honorable jobs available for women are those that require post-high school training.-The community was undergoing radical social change, and provided a unique opportunity to observe cultural production in action. Through resistance to increasing seclusion, a result of growing urbanization and loss of the intimate Arab village life, girls are creating new cultural meanings for formal schooling.-Finally, my observations highlight the rich lives of Arab women in Middle East society. They play an active role enhancing their familys honor by perfecting the traditional womens duties, for instance cooking for guests. Their behaviors are often overlooked in discussions of chastity and honor of Middle Eastern women.