Tuesday, August 7, 2012

what kind of person is chinuch trying to produce?

This article came to my attention, discussing certain problems with the current day school yeshiva education and calling for overhaul. 

If you are homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling, it's likely you already have taken the matter into your own hands to some degree.  I cite this article because I really like how R' Dov Lipman expresses the goals and ideals of a Jewish education. 

He writes (my bold):
My friend related how just that morning during Shacharit he was thinking about how “off target” we are as he watched rabbis barking at children to stand during “vayevareich Dovid” and the “vihu rachum,” part of Tachanun at a youth minyan. He was not suggesting we shouldn’t find ways to encourage our children to stand when our custom dictates standing during prayers. But the degree to which the kids were being scolded for not standing struck a chord that led him to reflect upon what we teach as important and what is not important.

I have seen in both myself and in others a way of criticizing students that reflects an unconscious set of values that we might not want to be teaching our children.  Frequently it is by facial expression, tone, or the degree of negativity for a minor issue.  This gives me a lot to think about.

He also writes (and I realized that I hope that, if I take my child's education into my own hands, that maybe I can work more towards some of these answers being "Yes"):
Let’s take a step back and see where the average yeshiva high school boy stands upon graduation from high school. Is he fluent in Hebrew? No. Can he prepare a Gemara on his own? No. Does he enjoy studying Gemara? No. Does he know Tanach? No. Does he enjoy davening? No. Does he understand basic Jewish philosophy about God, the purpose of creation, and why we do the things we do? No. Does he stand head and shoulders above the rest of society in terms of his dedication to acts of loving-kindness and basic human decency? No.
I may or may not have these goals for my own children.  But it gives me a good place to start, a good checklist to think about.  You are educating your child for roughly a decade; what do you want to do with that time?

He also writes (and again, I'm turning it around to look at the positive embodiments of these qualities):
our average students are not steeped in Torah knowledge, not skilled in reading classic texts and prayers, not excited about Judaism, and not prepared to be morally and ethically superior to the low common denominator of surrounding society 

 He expresses his ideal graduates:
ultimately producing young men who are comfortable reading our texts and prayers, inspired to want to study and pray, enthused regarding their Judaism, prepared to enter the world as the most moral, ethical, respectful, and upstanding members of society
Having a sense of what my priorities and goals are as a homeschooler helps me with the larger decisions of curriculum development, where I put my educational energy, what I choose to emphasize, and what we learn.  But it also helps in the millions of small reactions and decisions I make every day.  When my child doesn't remember a word.  When my child wants to tell me her dream before we start Chumash.

When I'm crabby and irritated and have more things happening than I have attention for, how I react to my children teaches them more about Torah and about my true values than anything else.  Maybe the more clarity I have about my goals, the easier these split-second and largely unconscious reactions/decisions will become.

No comments:

Post a Comment