A Few Quick Updates

The Judean Hills on a sunny day, seen from Nahal Soreq

It’s getting late, and I have to be up early for our tiyul/trip tomorrow. So this will be a brief post, just to touch on a few quick things, before I hit the sack.

Firstly, a brief update on the exam failure “scandal” I wrote about here. I got a few more “facts” and figures from the head of my course that relate to this story.

For starters, I’m not sure where the numbers in the Jerusalem Post story came from, but they aren’t 100% accurate. At least not according to what I heard, and I have no reason to think that the head of my course lied to us. Whereas the numbers quoted in the article for the English and Hebrew courses at my school (Lander college) were 5 out of 21 passing from the English course and 5 out of 20 passing the Hebrew course, I was told that the actual numbers were 5 of 18 in the English course and 11 of 14 in the Hebrew course. Rather than the pass/fail rates themselves, I think the odd discrepancy here is that the two sets of figures don’t even match in terms of how many people even took the exam.

Still, the actual numbers are less important to me, since the trend remains the same — a much higher percentage of failures on this exam than on previous ones. One positive sign is that everyone seemed to be taking this very seriously. Which suggests to me that by the time I take the test in two years’ time, this will hopefully all be straightened out. Secondly, though highly uncommon, we have received confirmation that the head of the English language course at Lander actually appealed a few of the borderline grades, and actually succeeded in having them overturned.

What is more troubling to me, however, is that I got a copy of the exam and looked it over. The written exam has two sections. One with multiple choice questions and one in which we must design a tour based on certain criteria. The multiple choice questions seemed fairly straightforward, and I was surprised that I could already answer a number of them, either from prior knowledge, or based on stuff I have already learned in the course. So that section does not worry me much at all.

However, the multiple choice section accounts for only 25% of the grade. And the more vaguely graded second section is the more important one. So while I am sure they have specific criteria on which the tour you create is judged/graded, they clearly have enough leeway that they can use it as a weeding out tool when they want to license more or fewer tourguides, as has been alleged.

Regardless, it is two years away for me, so I’m not too concerned. I’ll just keep an eye on things and see what develops!

Additionally, I was thinking about age recently. In a class we had on public presentation, we videotaped a few students speaking and then critiqued them. One, a man who is somewhat noticeably older than me (I won’t hazard a guess as to his actual age; suffice it to say he is comfortably middle aged, but not old) gave an excellent intro. One of the comments that came from the class was how his age made him simply look more knowledgeable and trustworthy. And it got me thinking about my age.

When I finish this course, I will be 40 years old. I certainly don’t look my age, or feel it for that matter. But I also would never be mistaken for 25! And so I hope that my age will also bode well for me in my new career. Either way, I like that I will be starting this all at age 40. Seems like a nice age to be launching a new profession!

Lastly, tomorrow’s tiyul is scheduled for Ein Gedi. For those who don’t know, we’ve had major rainstorms for the past day in Israel, and there has been some dangerous, and even deadly flooding in some parts of the country. So bottom line, I have no idea if the tiyul will actually happen tomorrow. So far, we’ve been told it will, but at the same time, I know these people are professionals and will not take us somewhere if it will be dangerous for us. So, we’ll see!

I hope it does take place, since I have missed the first two trips with this guide, Eli Raz, both around the Dead Sea area. And I have heard excellent things about him, since he is truly one of the premier experts on the region. So I look forward to what we may learn!


  1. Your facts about the tour guide exam last November are not accurate or appreciated by those who failed. Send me an email and I’ll be happy to explain it all to you after June 1st.

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