Pedagogic Impossibilities in Mandate Palestine - Greater Syria and the Colonial Syllabus

By Yoni Furas
Submitted to Session P4417 (Centennial of What? (Re)Acknowledging the Relationship Between the 1916 Arab Revolt and Mandate Politics, 2016 Annual Meeting
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Soon after the completion of the occupation of Palestine, the British administration established an Education Department that was to become a central socializing agent in this new colonial order. Subsequently, a new colonial pedagogy was in need, one that could answer the educational challenges related to educating a newly defined community within new borders under a new socio-political order. The new educational administration sought to learn from past pedagogical mistakes, especially from the bitter experiences in Egypt and Iraq, and create a system that cooperated with the local intellectual elite, outlining with them an educational vision for Palestine, one that took into account their culture and history. Nevertheless, this educational colonial dialogue could not answer the burning questions and conflicting views over the future of Palestine, all central to the new syllabus, since those depended on imperial interests and international settlements.
This paper will focus on one particular challenge in the colonial syllabus (published by the Education Department in 1921 and 1925), primarily in the geography and history courses, exploring the way in which the vision of a unified independent state in Greater Syria wrote itself into the colonial syllabus. It will address the employment of the spatial and historical delineations in the syllabus that were meant to create a new entity, Palestine. Moreover, through an analysis of textbooks and school journal essays, the paper will present the views and responses of local pedagogues to the colonial syllabus and their own interpretation of and authorship about the vision of Greater Syria. The paper will trace the translation of the political tensions between local pedagogues and colonial educators into an institutionalized syllabus. It shall highlight the educational shortcomings and inconsistencies in this syllabus, which derived from this “colonial pedagogical dialogue” within the political impossibilities of Palestine’s mandate.