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Overwhelmingly, though, teachers are dedicated individuals who come to class with a determination to do a good job – and most do a good job despite the challenges they face.
Another point about the quality and capabilities of those who go into teaching: It’s been noted that one of the consequences of the Great Depression eighty years ago is that people of considerable learning and other skills who could not find other work or did not have business opportunities turned toward teaching careers and this had a beneficial impact on the quality of teaching in public education for more than a generation.
This was especially evident in math and science instruction, as well as English language skills, and it was true not only of public schools but of many private schools, including yeshivas. With the long postwar economic improvement, the incentive of such persons to go into basic education evaporated and there was an inevitable decline in quality, as it became increasingly difficult to attract top-notch persons to basic education.
It is unclear whether the severe recession and the poor job market we have experienced in recent years have resulted in basic education serving once more as a magnet to attract such persons. My hunch is that it has had a modest impact, but no more.
Whatever the quality of instruction, the root of the intense focus on teachers lies in other factors. Education is rightly viewed as not merely one more important service provided by government. Education goes to the heart of what societies seek to achieve. When a child fails, there are reverberations that likely intensify as the years go by. The stakes are therefore higher than for any other major public activity, medical care included.
This is at the mega or societal level. At the parental level, what counts is how one’s child is doing at a particular moment in a particular classroom, not necessarily how good the teacher may be overall or how other students in the same classroom are doing. The focus is narrow and parochial, entangled in both self-interest and emotions, yet it is also understandable why parents view what is occurring in the classroom through the prism of their own children.
Unavoidable as this is, it also results in unfairness toward teachers, especially as parents are themselves nowadays more emotionally involved in how their children are doing at school, becoming in a way big brothers and big sisters who feel they must protect their younger siblings. It is good in one sense that parents care, but the advantage of parental involvement can be offset by too narrow or insensitive scrutiny of what happens in a classroom.
I am confident that teachers at yeshivas and day schools are extraordinary in their devotion, spending much time outside the classroom in preparation and also seeking ways to better connect with their students. Nearly all of them are also social workers. They deserve our gratitude and respect, even if at times we may think they fall short of what we may want of them.
My admiration is without bounds, especially toward the women who teach in our schools. Many have significant family and home responsibilities. Invariably, they are exceedingly low paid and, invariably, they are exceedingly dedicated. They are among the jewels of religious Jewish life in the contemporary period.
Marvin Schick is president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. This is his sixtieth year working on behalf of Torah education.
About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick is president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. He has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years.
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Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state
Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.
In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”
“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”
We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.
ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.
Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.
The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.
And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?
Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.
The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.
We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.
Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.
We now are in the season of advocacy of preschool, referring specifically to the education of children who are four years old.
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.
Where children are emotionally and socially when they are not in school is a matter of growing concern for educators, especially in Jewish schools and other religious institutions.
It often seems that it’s always open season on teachers, that they are available for target practice in the form of harsh criticism or verbal and written abuse from current parents, former parents, current students, former students, administrators, lay leaders and, in the case of public education, public officials and the media.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/our-teachers-deserve-unbounded-admiration/2011/05/18/
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