Jun 21, 2011

School - Then and Now

A woman from Hungary described what school was like there:

"Schools in those days (in the 50's) were very different from today.  Public schools had professional educators who were experts in their academic fields, and were fierce disciplinarians.  They were there to teach, and we were there to learn.  We truly feared them.  There was no talking back or fooling around.  They did not care about making us feel good, nor were they interested in our self-esteem.  They never praised us.  We were called by our last names.  We were like little soldiers in boot camp."

Is there any evidence that the school system today produces children who are any more well-adjusted, more knowledgeable, with greater character?

I am not in favor of school being a terrifying place but there is much to praise in a school system that fosters respect for authority, conformity to the rules, proper behavior, and an atmosphere in which one learns! From our perspective, these are vital lessons for life as Torah Jews.  Is it a coincidence that just as frum schools and homes are adopting the touchy-feely values of modern-day psychology that we are reading more and more about children who are acting out, dropping out, hurting themselves, and are miserable?

1 comment:

  1. I would imagine that children who came from homes that enforced what the school taught were able to stay in school and follow the rules. Kids who came from homes where the father was in jail and the mother was trying to support the family probably dropped out and eventually followed in the father's misled footsteps. Kids with parents who drank or mothers who were loose women and did not care for the kids probably did not straighten out and fly right from the strict approach in school, unless someone helped them deal with the home life. If they ended up in foster care, they probably floundered when they outgrew the system.
    In the Torah world, we are too busy shifting our responsibilities to the hanhala. We want him to make the whole thing possible without bothering us. If he asks us to pay up or get out, we consign him to a place in gehinom rather than sacrificing to make sure that our children get chinuch. In some Torah schools, every parent has a give or get obligation as well as an expectation to help the school in various ways. We have decided that due to large families, mothers should not be part of the operation of the school and it is put squarely on the shoulders of the menahel and then we wonder why he is getting paid so much! We are touchy feely about parental obligations and responsibilities and then wonder why the school is failing.