Nov 12, 2009

Promoting the Positive in Chinuch

In an article entitled, "Speaking About the Unspeakable," Abraham J. Twerski maintains, "Our children know that treif foods are forbidden because they see us checking food packages for a hechsher and discussing what is kosher and what is not. When they see us refraining from doing certain activities on Shabbos, they learn about shemiras Shabbos. When they see us prepare the house for Pesach, they understand the seriousness of the prohibition against eating chametz. But how will our children learn about the evils of drug use if we don’t talk to them about it?"

This article bothered me when I read it. Then I read a dvar Torah which explains why Dr. Twerski’s approach is wrong, counter-productive, and not the Torah view:

LiShichno Sidrishu U’vasa Shama” - seek His Presence and come there (Re’eh 12:5). The Ponevezher Rov asked why is it that when the Torah tells us to build a Bais HaMikdash, the location is not clearly stated?

He contrasts this to the Arei Miklat (Cities of Refuge) where the Torah tells us “Tachin Licha HaDerech”, and Chazal explain that the roads should have signs at every junction pointing in the direction of the Arei Miklat. The reason for this, he explains, is that the murderer, in his flight to safety, should not need to stop and ask directions because we don’t want everyone to know that a murder took place since it will desensitize the people to murder.

On the other hand when a person is going to the Bais HaMikdash we want him to stop everyone along the way to ask for directions to awaken in them the desire to also go to the Bais HaMikdash.

The Chinuch Malchusi says that we learn from here that you should not teach your children through negative examples. Do not point out the wrongdoings and teach them its evils and how they must avoid it. In a sense this will open up their thoughts and teach them all sorts of bad things that they would have surely avoided had they come upon it themselves.

The person presenting this dvar Torah said that a mechanech once told him that when he was a young boy many years ago (before drugs were a huge problem) in school in the Bronx, they brought in an officer from the Drug Enforcement Agency who brought in many kinds of drugs and gave them a lecture about avoiding each one. This mechanech said that it was very educational to the bulk of his class who ended up on drugs!

Good education means monopolizing the mind with positive lessons, examples, and stories. Just like with the questions on the way to the Bais HaMikdash, this attitude will help the children find the Shechina after a longer but very successful journey.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that children react better to positive lessons rather than warnings, admonitions and preaching. If they have been treated positively, they may not have the desire to do negative things.
    At some point though, we all have to teach kids how to remain safe from the many dangers and hazards of all types that they may encounter in life, particularly if those things are in their environment. They also eventually see that others are doing negative things and they may want an explanation for the behavior that they are witnessing.