web analytics
January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


After Sixty Years: Thoughts on Jewish Education


That parents are now more involved in the school lives of their children is a development we should welcome. Gone are the days when parents sent their kids off to school and scarcely knew what happened during the many hours they were entrusted to teachers and other school personnel.

Of course, when their children came home with report cards, invariably parents examined them closely and experienced nachas when the grades were high and concern when they weren’t. Many also paid attention to grades on tests and other information pertaining to school performance, yet in the aggregate there was a certain deference – perhaps it should be called decorum – separating parents from what transpired at school, the assumption being that teachers and principals could be relied on to be fair.

If a child got into trouble, it was a good bet parents would not side with their offspring, except perhaps in the most egregious situations.

This pattern was evident in all yeshivas. I cannot write first hand about public schools, although that’s where I was enrolled until early in the fourth grade. I believe the factors that contributed to a limited parental role in yeshivas were also factors determining how parents were engaged decades ago in the education of their children in other basic educational settings.

There has been a major change. Parents are like big brothers and big sisters in relation to their children’s schooling, helping out with homework and other assignments and, at times, crossing the line and doing more than helping out. They are also more knowledgeable about classmates, whom their children are friendly with, and much else.

From nursery on, parents are invited and expected to be at their children’s “graduation,” special performances and notable events. They show up at PTA meetings, carefully examine report cards, compare notes with other parents, and assess teacher competence and how their children are doing socially in relation to their teachers and to their peers.

Why the change from the pattern that once existed? All social relationships are subject to change, whether due to economic developments or other factors. What is occurring in basic education, however, transcends the ordinary or expected alterations in behavior and attitudes that inevitably occur over time. What we have seen is, in effect, a cultural sea change, the rejection of one mindset and its replacement by what appear to be radically different attitudes and behaviors.

One likely contributory factor in yeshivas and day schools is tuition. There was a time – it now seems distant – when yeshiva tuition was extremely low for most students and non-existent for the most indigent families. We all know how this has changed, what with the tuition crisis and with many schools and parents being in a tense relationship regarding the setting of tuition and its collection.

As I have written over the years, basic Jewish education that once was regarded as primarily a communal responsibility is now viewed as a consumer product, and like all products it must be paid for by those who make use of it. As is the case with conventional products, parents who pay tuition understandably feel they have the right to demand good value for what they are paying. They have the right to ask questions and to get answers from school officials, professional and volunteer, and from teachers.

But this is no more than a partial explanation. The reality is that parents who receive substantial tuition assistance are also heavily involved in their children’s school performance, as well they should be. Likely, the primary contributory factor is cultural, meaning there is an expectation that parents are not merely giving their children over to the school but are in a sense partnering with the school in their children’s education, helping with homework and assignments, keeping in touch with teachers and school personnel, talking with other parents about what is going on in the classroom, etc.

About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years. He can be contacted at mschick@mindspring.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “After Sixty Years: Thoughts on Jewish Education”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the crumbling Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Lieberman so Frantic for Votes He Calls for ‘Disproportionate Response’
Latest Indepth Stories
Sarah Schenirer

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Prophet Mohammed on Jan. 14, 2015 edition cover of  Charles Hebdo..

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

To defeat parasites-the hosts of terrorists-we need to deny them new people, potential terrorists

Combating Amalek doesn’t mean all who disagree with you is evil-rather whom to follow and to oppose

Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t

There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.

Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.

Since the passing of the Governance bill legislation on March 11, 2014, new alignments have become to appear in Israeli politics.

Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves

The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.

Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.

Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.

Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians

More Articles from Marvin Schick
Marvin Schick

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

Front-Page-090514

Although I was not a Zionist, like most others I knew in Agudath Israel in which I was active, I was zionistic.

We now are in the season of advocacy of preschool, referring specifically to the education of children who are four years old.

Two months ago, the Pew Research Center issued a comprehensive study of American Jews and ever since the American Jewish community has been debating the findings. I have contributed my share to this debate, which concerns matters of critical importance.

As the Torah teaches, poverty will never be eradicated, nor will our obligation to assist those in need.

As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.

A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.

There is constant talk of a tuition crisis, of the growing number of yeshiva and day school parents – and potential parents – who say that full tuition or anything close to it is beyond their financial reach.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/after-sixty-years-thoughts-on-jewish-education/2011/08/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: