11/15/2007

Clarification Regarding Charedi Women as Teachers

I want to clarify my position on Chareidi women as educators. I do not think that all, or even most, Chareidi women are good teachers. I also do not think that there are no good teachers outside the Chareidi system. I also do not think that there is nothing to worry about in giving one's kids a Charedi education.

There are really two points. The first is that I am very happy with my daughter's school. She is getting a good, well-rounded education, has excellent, professional teachers, and a nice group of kids in her relatively small class. The administration is generally receptive to the parents and willing to talk to them. Earlier this week, her class went on a Rosh Chodesh tiyul (day trip) to the Bamba factory.

I realize (as I mentioned in the previous post) that this is not indicative of Charedi education. This is education under Chareidi auspices. I do not think it an accident that schools in Israel that are under Chareidi auspices but are geared for the general public are generally considered to be excellent schools. I do believe that there is a good talent pool of Chareidi educators, especially women, which is deeper, pound-for-pound, than the pool in other sectors of Israeli society. I should point out that my other kids have has Chareidi women as teachers in nursery schools funded and run by the municipality. They are not just populating the faculties of Chareidi schools. I wonder if, given the choice, these women would prefer to work outside the Charedi sector. I wonder what the difference in pay is. The answers might be interesting - that the best Charedi women teachers teach outside the Chareidi sector. A point for speculation.

With regard to the 'dangers' of educating my kid in an environment like that, I am simply not worried. Speaking only for my own family, it will be very, very long time before my kids have teachers who know more Torah than their parents. It is extremely unlikely that they will adopt a different value-system because they think that their parents' is not serious or rooted in Torah. Furthermore, the norm remains for kids, after a few years of experimentation one way or the other, to remain fairly close to their parents ideologically, and for that matter religiously and practically as well. If the family provides a stable and comfortable environment, kids will GENERALLY not move too far away from what they know and love. There are, of course, exceptions.

A final point pertains to the different systems of education. I've written before how I think a broad but frum personality develops. It does not happen by simultaneously developing the 'Torah' and 'Madda' parts of the brain, so to speak. It does not happen by trying to turn kids on to Torah AND Geography AND Literature AND Physics and so forth. It happens when there is a deeply-rooted love for Torah out of which everything else develops (and yes, it can develop that way). The Menorah, symbol of Jewish wisdom, highlight this - it has a central column out of which all other branches stem. Yet, it's all made from the same piece of metal. To my mind, that symbolizes the relationship and also the chronological process of the absorption of both Torah and what we'll call 'that other valuable stuff'. I think that there's plenty of time in high school or college for our kids to become angst-ridden and conflicted about matters of Torah and whatever else. Let them learn to love Torah first, though. It is certainly important that they learn other things as well, but I don't care if my kids doesn't love math.

I'm not saying that only Chareidi schools imbue a love of Torah. I am saying that I would not write a local Chareidi school off just because it's Chareidi, and that often it is the best option available.

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