Dec 26, 2013

Kometz Alef Uh

There was a tribute to Rabbi Meir Pilchik a'h in Mishpacha magazine.  He was a menahel and fundraiser associated with the Stoliner yeshiva but "his primary claim to fame was as an alef-beis rebbi in the Stoliner yeshiva."

The article went on to describe what a devoted and patient rebbi he was, and how he made Torah and Yiddishkeit sweet for the children.  One detail that caught my attention had me wondering.  It said that "he kept a looseleaf in which he detailed the progress of each child in his pre-1A class.  He would monitor their mastery of keria, ensuring that no one left his classroom crippled for life with an inability to read."

This was over 40 years ago and there was no "special ed," no special ed training, and no keria programs.  How did he, and Racoma Shain, author of All For the Boss, who also ensured that every child who left her class could read, manage this? Were the children different back then? Did something change? Was it the norm for all or the vast majority of children to learn how to read in an ordinary classroom, or were these particular teachers unusual?

How could we find out?


  1. My dyslexic niece went to a small Jewish day school in Louisville. This was in the 90's since she is now keneinahora, 27. It was very confusing for her to switch between left to right for English and the opposite for Hebrew, just as it was hard for her driving teacher to explain left and right later in life. The day school staff was very patient and worked at isolating letters so as not to confuse her. My sister also was a very involved mother, as my niece is an only child.
    In yeshivas today, there are lots of kids, many of whom the parents cannot be as involved and the classrooms are overcrowded and the teacher are not paid on time or given reasonable pay. Being poor is much harder in a community focused on hyper consumption so job satisfaction as a rebbe is probably nil in many cases.

  2. Parenting pundit John Rosemond says: "In the 1950s, at the height of the baby boom, it was not unusual to find an elementary school class of 40 or more children being successfully taught by one teacher.

    "My first grade class picture, for example, shows 50 children. The adult-child ratio in my second- and third-grade classes was, respectively, 1 to 37 and 1 to 45."

    Teachers being underpaid is an old story. For the most part, someone who is successful in teaching is someone who is dedicated to the field. There are plenty of people who want to teach and there are a lack of positions so if a teacher is mediocre, there are plenty of people waiting to take his/her place.