Jun 26, 2013

Out with the Old, In with the New

There is a new trend in our frum schools in which younger teachers are hired.  A relative of mine who is a rebbi in his 40's told me in astonishment how he is regarded as old.  This is certainly not the way he sees himself which is why he is nonplussed.

I read an interview with a rosh yeshiva (himself a zaidy) in which he was asked:

Many yeshivos these days are hiring younger staff members so that they can better relate to the students, which is a good thing, but isn't this at the expense of the experience of older teachers? Is the perspective of younger teachers broad enough and are they the ones to whom we should be entrusting the chinuch of our children?

His response:
"This is definitely a good move. There are yeshivos today that are built from the outset with young blood, and even old time yeshivos are incorporating young teachers. Young teachers provide a lot of energy, creative thought and they are able to understand young people.

"An older staff member, who lacks what the younger ones have, may need to consult with those younger than him. Chazal say 'the destruction of the elders is construction and the construction of youth is destruction', but when they work together, you have the best of both."

It is possible that I am out of touch with the needs of today's students for if I had the choice of an experienced teacher or a newbie, I would pick the experienced teacher.  There is something I find very disturbing about the favoring of young teachers.  Maybe it's the mishna in Avos 4:26 Mishna 26: "Rabbi Yossi bar Yehuda of K'far HaBavli said: One who learns from the young, to what is he compared? To one who eats unripe grapes and drinks wine from the press. And one who learns from the old, to what is he compared? To one who eats ripened grapes and drinks aged wine." True, mishna 27 goes on to say, "Rabbi Meir said, do not look at the flask but what is in it. There are new flasks filled with old wine and old flasks which do not even contain new wine." So it is possible that young teachers can be superb and that old teachers can be dismal. 

It used to be that those from previous generations were respected because they were closer to the revelation at Sina.  What chinuch message are we sending our youth when we say out with the old and in with the young?

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