Thursday, July 28, 2011

What in the World

As constituted now, we are an information-hungry world. Thanks to the advances in technology we now have virtually instant access to information from around the globe. We know more (or should know more) about every place on earth and what is happening (or not happening) there. Discoveries in every field of endeavor are easily shared with others almost instantaneously.

With all that knowledge now available it would seem to be logical that the twelve years of education that we consider required would be overflowing with important information that students should know before graduating. And yet....

Some would posit that there is now just too much information and it's impossible to cram learning it all into 12 years. Okay, a bit of that is true. But that statement assumes that all schools are actually attempting to teach everything; unfortunately, that is not the case.

I'm leaving the public schools out of this discussion for now. Let's instead look at the yeshivas. Here in the general New York/New Jersey area a phenomenon has been seen for quite some time now. Boys yeshivas, particularly the ones that qualify as "yeshivish" or more to the right, have stopped teaching secular subjects in the senior year. To be even more accurate, some of those yeshivas aren't teaching all that much by way of secular studies in the first three years of high school either, but at least something is being taught. (Note: this is not so much a philosophical decision as one one based on meeting at least some of the minimum requirements for the city and state and federal monies available to these schools and which they gladly take.) There are also some of the very right wing girls high schools which also do not have a senior year of secular studies.

What are the implications of having this type of policy in place for the future of the students enrolled in these schools and for Klal in general? The most obvious is that the students graduating from these schools are under-educated, lacking a whole lot of the basic essentials for navigating the outside world. Outside of the chinuch world for employment, these students are unable to compete for jobs in the outside world because they lack what others have.

For many of the students attending these types of high schools, high school is the end of the road as regards secular education. And as can be seen from their curricula, it would be more factual to say that 8th or 9th grade is really the end of their secular education. Thus, willfully, and yes, with malice aforethought, students in these schools are being held back from being able to fully participate in the outside world, from being able to compete with others for jobs available and for resources available.

Generally progress goes in a forward direction, not a backward one, but as regards the secular education available to far too many in Klal, going backward to a time when schools obeyed government dictates as regards education would actually be going forward.

If you aren't a parent in one of those schools, then what possible input could you have that would change the mess the education is in in these schools? That's a fairly easy answer--money. There are a whole slew of these schools that send out mailings for donations or have people calling for donations. Our family sends zero donations to these institutions, regardless of how "high" their limudei kodesh education is supposed to be, because they don't offer what they are also supposed to be offering--a solid secular education.

And just as a personal note, just how high can that limudei kodesh education be--you know, the one that is supposed to teach "Thou shalt not lie, Thou shalt not cheat, Thou shalt not steal"--when those thou shalt nots are regularly being practiced on the secular education side?


Anonymous said...

There is no lying or cheating going on with these schools. New York doesn't say that students have to stay in school until they get a diploma. They only have to stay until they are 16. 16 is before the senior year. What is it anybodys business if they don't get the goyish learning after that? Its legal.

JS said...

I could be wrong since I'm not familiar with NY education law, but I don't believe there's any requirement to receive secular education for 4 years of high school. I am aware of several MO yeshiva high schools that finish the state's requirements in 3 years. Some students choose to "drop out" of high school their senior year, get a GED, go to community college for their senior year, get college credits, and then apply to more prestigious universities. Some MO yeshivas take their seniors to Israel and I believe the secular education is lessened a bit, though not entirely dropped.

Either way, why blame the schools? Last I checked it's the parents that choose the schools and pay the checks (or apply for scholarship as the case may be). The parents don't value a secular education, so why should the schools? Further, why should the kids? Even if the schools taught it, you think the parents would be telling their kids not to go to some shabbaton because they have a history test on Monday?

If you're a parents who values secular education and you choose to send your child to a school like this, you get exactly what you deserve: kids who will be dependent on you and the government the rest of their lives.

Reminds me of the parents who hear all the stories of kids coming back from Israel "frummer than thou" and won't eat in their parents' houses, etc. and yet send their kids to Israel anyways and act all shocked when the same happens to them.

Miami Al said...

The biggest disaster ever made was this idea of "dual curriculum." They ran two parallel schools and nobody pays attention to half of it, which half depends on the wing of Orthodoxy.

If you train kids in Greek logic, they'll use the SAME skills in Geometry as Gemara, it's the SAME inferential logic and it's from roughly the SAME time period.

The ability to critically rip into English literature is the SAME ability used by people in AP French Lit to rip into French literature, why isn't it used to rip into Hebrew literature, both biblical and modern?

On what planet is math, science, or English "goyish?" At most US History can be seen, incorrectly, as goyish, but the basics?

What is wrong with people.