Concerning academia, there is no “one size fits all” to suit each child equally. If you’d take a survey you’d find countless young people who are out of school (having completed the 12th grade) longing to be back in the classroom. Plenty of others, on the other hand, wouldn’t be able to adequately express their relief at finally having those school years behind them and done with.
At one end we have the high-achievers who breeze through a grueling study regimen and find the pressure of exams stimulating and gratifying, while at the other we have those who are satisfied with the status quo (it is what it is) and are relieved to score a passing grade. The former mostly aspire to a higher calling in the way of a professional career, while the latter wouldn’t mind dispensing with the mind-challenging courses that they can’t fathom having any use for, ever.
Then there’s the home environment — a large part of the big picture. Given unrestricted access to a computer (Internet) or a television, how many children would settle for a basketball game or a bike ride as an alternative? Even if a recreation period was a mandatory part of every school curriculum, it is the parents who are in charge at home and they can make a huge difference in their children’s lives and wellbeing.
Take the parents who are slovenly in appearance and fail to show interest in their physical upkeep; their children are bound to follow suit, and vice-versa. Moreover, many problems arise when parents cannot be bothered with the input involved in raising their kids and rely too heavily on the schools to make mentchen out of their children. Even well meaning parents can get caught up in their own troubles, to the detriment of their children who yearn to be noticed and who silently cry out for a parent’s guidance.
Yes, it is imperative that our children be taught basic derech eretz, kavod habrios and positive forms of enjoyment… but competing in “sports on a professional level” is hardly the cure-all. Non-Jewish youth, whose focus on athletic accomplishments bodes positively for them, enthrall you. But let’s get real: their responsibilities do not begin to measure up to ours. Our lifestyle, our goals and our duty as orthodox Jews place us in a league of our own.
Thank you for weighing in with your insightful comments.
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