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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Epidemic? Do I Detect Some Fear?


In a great show of "achdus" each and every mechanech forcibly condemns homeschooling, not just for this mother/daughter but across the board. I certainly wasn't expecting an endorsement from those who are immersed in the rather homogeneous school of thought of modern day, conventional schooling. However, the responses have left my head shaking side to side and my eyes popped wide open.

The current "yeshiva system" for all of its achievements (and there are very many to admire) simply does not always work for every child and every family, and in some cases the situation on the ground is detrimental to the student and their future. And yet in these responses there is almost no self-reflection regarding the conventional system and no commiseration with the pain of a parent who is only trying to figure out how to best help her child grow and thrive. I'd say at least two of the responses border on cruel!

Here is the vague question that begs "expound me."

What is the opinion of the panel regarding home-schooling?
I live in a community with several schools, but feel that my daughter can benefit from a year away from the social pressures and stress and would like to try this. In the experience of the distinguished mechanchim, is there a reason not to?

Let's take them one by one in two to three posts (I will start with some of the most eye-popping and work my way down). My comments will be in [brackets]. Excuse the snap in my type.

Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Far Rockaway

Home-schooling is the "in" thing in today's day and age, a fad bordering on epidemic. [An epidemic? Do I detect some fear of the idea even being out in the marketplace of free ideas? Being a home-camping parent/early childhood "homeschooling" parent, I'm fairly certain it is safe to say homeschooling is NOT reaching epidemic proportions, nor will it anytime soon. I don't think we need to worry about homeschooling becoming an epidemic when it is near impossible to find close in age children that are home for the 8-10 weeks of summer].

My question is: Does your daughter want/need to be home-schooled or is this your idea? There is an interesting phenomenon. Serious baalei teshuvah are able to make up in 2-3 years what our children have studies for 15. Why, then, do our children spend so many years in yeshiva? [Just ignore this stunning inditement for a second because we won't be returning to this programming.]

There are two major components besides for ongoing learning.

One is the yedios one absorbs on a daily basis from one's rebbi/morah/menahel/gedolim, etc. There are so many nuances that make up a typical day in yeshiva/Bais Yaakov. Let's call this the osmosis part of education. There is no way in the work that your daughter will pick all this up in a home-schooling environment.

Second, there is a social aspect to being in a classroom. Learning how to play with friends, interact in after-school activities, and joining in the group are most important as well. We receive hundreds of calls over the summer asking to place children with certain rabbeim. While I seriously believe that it is narishkeitin, because all the rabbeim are wonderful [Evvvvvveeeeerrrrrryyyyyy single one? If only every employer could be so lucky!], there is nothing more important than good friends in the classroom [and does the girl have good friends?]. You are sending your daughter to a Bais Yaakov not only to learn, but, even more importantly, to make and retain friends. If your daughter has the common, everyday pressures of stress, teach her how to work with it. Don't run away from it. [First it might be helpful to explore where the stress is coming from. . . . bullying? a learning issue? A school day that is too long?]

Home-schooling should be left only for those who cannot function in a classroom- a handicapped or learning-disabled child who does not want to be placed in a public school, or a child who is cracking under pressure of stress. There is no sensible reason to take a healthy, normal girl out of her milieu. We have all seen too many karbanos [from where? There isn't a statistically significant enough yeshivish population to begin to analyze. I imagine there are no failures from the "system."]. Don't gamble with your children.

I am not even discussing the silliness of trying to avoid paying tuition. This should not be a discussion or consideration. [This is a hum zinger. . . "silliness"? Are there not families in the author's school suffering financially in this environment? Are there not families and marriages not slowly dying under growing debts and financials stresses (This is regularly spoken about by Orthodox organizations when they meet to discuss tuition)? Are there not children that might be living with extra stress from their homes because of the rat race to find that $$$$ and make ends meet? . oh, I forgot, "money ain't a thing" and should not factor into such decisions. Private school parents, a published statement like this from a very well respected Rosh Yeshiva has to make you wonder, right?]


Rebbi, Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, Baltimore

I can't ever see a reason to homeschool a child. Aside from academics, there is so much to be gained from school. In fact, an argument can be made that the social aspects of school are even more important than the academics.

It sounds to me like your daughter needs a strong boost of self-confidence. Speak to her teachers for the upcoming year and explain her concerns. Homeschooling is not the answer. [Emphasis mine. Ever, ever? Can you bottle this confidence because it would eliminate a lot of sleepless nights for concerned parents?]


General Editor, Artscroll/Mesorah Publications

Unless there are compelling reasons, I would be opposed to homeschooling. The writer implies that there may be such "compelling reasons," but as a general rule it is a bad idea and, in most cases, a disservice to the child.

Academically, it is not likely that homeschooling will cover the normal school curriculum, simply because the drive to learn and teach will dwindle as the weeks go by, and there is little stimulus to maintain the program. [And this is not true of some classrooms too? Silly to even argue an unsupported point] Sooner or later, the child will go back to school and then she will be at a disadvantage, thus even increasing the pressures that the parent is trying to remove. Socially, the child will be without friends. Not at first, because she'll still be friendly with her old schoolmates, but that will wear off, since she will not be part of the school environment anymore. [If this is not the stupidest statement of the entire round table, I'm not sure what is. Seems the the socialization problem might be endemic to the very system being promoted. . . and pray tell, how do military brats even have friends?]

The parents shold consult the school on how to ameliorate the "social pressure and stress," but running away from the problem will not solve it. If, indeed, the problem is as significant as the writer implies, a professional should be consulted. [We don't even know where the problem is stemming from, but I guess the possibility that it might be coming from within the walls of the school is not something we should consider!]


38 comments:

sima said...

I have two issues with this particular column (full disclosure: I don't homeschool, though I am not averse to the idea). The first is that every respondent is a mechanech in a traditional school setting. Not one of the mechanchim who offer opinions states that he has any close experience with a homeschooling family or homeschooled children. One can't realistically expect these people, who have dedicated their lives to traditional education, to respond positively to something that seems to threaten what they do. (I say "seems" b/c I doubt that homeschooling will ever be a solution for the vast majority of people, and will probably never significantly threaten traditional schools). The second is that the questioner does not really give enough information about the child and the child's situation. I wouldn't deign to give any kind of response without going rather more deeply into the family's situation and the child's issues.
Let me also comment that none of the respondents seem to really know what homeschooling parents do. Many of the homeschooled families I know do so in a network of other families, and their children have plenty of very healthy social interaction, perhaps healthier than the semi-toxic atmosphere of the school playground etc.

Orthonomics said...

The question seems a set up in order to knock down a straw man because the information provided is so terribly vague that no one would be able to even begin to advise.

After reading this set of responses, I now understand why parents who have tried to reach out to schools and have been hit a brick wall are hitting the brick wall. No businessman would ever declare everything wonderful when clients start looking elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

It's natural for people to think they do a better job than the competition.

Yael Aldrich said...

Well, if the alternative sounds good to your family, come to the Fourth Annual Torah Home Education on Sunday, May 6 in Baltimore to learn the real positives (and negatives) of a homeschooling lifestyle. We have an amazing lineup of speakers and events to give information and support to new and potential homeschoolers and give the veteran homeschooling families a chance to share their hard earned knowledge and gather strength for the year ahead.

This is the only homeschooling conference geared toward the needs of (Orthodox) Jews, so register today!

http://torahhomeeducation.eventbee.com

Miami Al said...

I am appalled at career educators that will imply, or flat out state, that the "social aspects" of school are MORE IMPORTANT than the education.

The statements about 2-3 years to catchup on the 15 sounds about right.

3 years after immigrating to the United States, recent immigrants are in NO WAY "caught up" with Americans in terms of what you picked up in 12 years of school (US History, Civics, etc.), ignoring language issues. If in three years a Frum "immigrant" can catch up with Yeshiva, a fact I think is true, that is a HUGE indictment of how half the educational time is spent.

Yael Aldrich said...

The real only negative point to be being a homeschool family is all the haters out there. At the conference, Rabbi Cary Friedman will discuss how to bridge the differences the Jewish community has with homeschooling families.

G*3 said...

> One is the yedios one absorbs on a daily basis from one's rebbi/morah/menahel/gedolim, etc. There are so many nuances that make up a typical day in yeshiva/Bais Yaakov. Let's call this the osmosis part of education. There is no way in the work that your daughter will pick all this up in a home-schooling environment.

This right here is the real reason home schooling is unthinkable. It is dogma in yeshivos that parents are incapable of properly raising their children, and so the yeshiva has to do it for them. Only the “rebbi/morah/menahel/gedolim” can impart “yedios.”

After all, we all know that all of the prominent maskilim were homeschooled. No one ever chas v’shalom hid philosophy books inside their gemaros in Slobodka.

ProfK said...

There it is in print--who the yeshivot want as their students. "If your daughter has the common, everyday pressures of stress, teach her how to work with it. Don't run away from it. [First it might be helpful to explore where the stress is coming from. . . . bullying? a learning issue? A school day that is too long?]

Home-schooling should be left only for those who cannot function in a classroom- a handicapped or learning-disabled child who does not want to be placed in a public school, or a child who is cracking under pressure of stress. There is no sensible reason to take a healthy, normal girl out of her milieu."

The schools want only "healthy and normal." If your child has physical, learning or emotional problems, keep them home. If something is occuring in school that causes stress to your child (things, by the way, that it should be the school's responsibility to fix or eliminate, like bullying and a too long school day) then keep that child away from the school. In other words, parents are perfectly suited for coping with "problem" children, but they couldn't possibly give a "normal" child in a home schooling situation what that child needs.

What did we expect would be the reaction from those whose parnoseh depends on the present educational system's remaining the same? Do you really think they are going to bite the hand that feeds them? Nothing to do with what is best for our children in those comments but a lot of self-interest talking.

shachar said...

not directly related to this post, but thought this might interest you:

http://tanakama.org/

(the new site gathering information about tuition in israeli yeshivot)

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

(My wife suggested I send this in also).

I'm going to defend two points:

1: Rabbi Bender has no choice but to say all his Rabbaim are wonderful. If any of them are not (which is my opionion), then parents will clamor to take their child out of that class. Not every Rebbe is for each child (and they say so in private).

2: Rabbi Bender's school is a special case (Which is why my wife asked me to send this in, she noted the same point regarding tuition a non-issue). Darchei is a "community school", and takes everyone, whether they pay tuition or not. It is the school that tells parents that are laid off to forget about tuition. Granted, they can do that because they have backers with deep pockets (and financial acumen), and not every school can. A brooklyn or regular MO school would never say "The silliness of trying to avoid paying tuition".

That being said, even he admits that there are reasons to home school (such as inability to cope in a regular class).

3: He seems to be saying that if it is the child's idea, the it is an option. For example, your suggestion of a long school day. Perhaps that would be a reason to homeschool, or only send part time (which does happen, at least in my days at yeshiva).

Otherwise, from what I have seen, one of the main reasons why people homeschool in my community is because they don't vaccinate, and the schools won't let them in/they don't want to push (perhaps it stems from the same "silliness"?)

Orthonomics said...

Nephew:

1. Why even write that all are wonderful?

2. The column is addressed for all readers, not just parents of a certain school. Surely the Rosh Yeshiva knows that not all schools have the same abilities? And even if laid off parents in every school could send their children gratis, we can't ignore that parents who are eekking by or slowly going into debt might want to take a different path and I'd hardly call that silliness.

3. I don't see the connection between non-vaccination and the financial strain and its effect in the home of paying tuition.

3.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

"1. Why even write that all are wonderful?"

Personality. That's the way he is. And it does fit into his point.

2 is a point. Rabbi Bender does believe (and has said so publicly) that other schools are wrong, and they should figure out how to manage to take everyone (including, BTW, special needs children, which the school is well know for taking in).

3 is that I'm saying financial strain is not the reason that I see people homeschooling. Of course I only have a small sample (2 or 3 families), but the schools would work with them if the families so desired.

Anonymous said...

The powers that be in the Orthodox community are generally against homeschooling bc many of the powers that be do not trust parents to feed them the standard community hashkafah.

The Orthodox establishment is failing miserably. Our community is in serious decline.

JS said...

I can't help but think that we're in the middle of a modern day philosophical battle between the pharisees and the sadducees - except this time it's the "yeshivasees" versus the "altervativees." We refer to our form of Judaism as "Rabbinic Judaism" and I don't think it's really much of a coincidence that the "yeshivasees" refer to their form of Judaism as the Yeshiva World. It seems the battle lines are being drawn in the same way - in the past you either accepted the rabbinic interpretation of Torah or you were outside the pale, and today you either accept the yeshiva system as the only way to educate children or you're outside the pale.

The yeshiva world is a step beyond rabbinic Judaism where the rabbi's interpretations of Torah are secondary to the rabbi as role model, spiritual leader, and source of reverence. It's about what gadol you revere, who your rebbe is, and what yeshivas you went to. What you know and what you've learned takes a back seat to that.

I think this is why you see such a strong reaction to homeschooling or any other alternative form of Jewish education. Because it's not about the education, it's about the yeshiva and the rebbe.

This is also why it's off-handedly remarked that a baal teshuva can catch up in 2-3 years to what a yeshiva student takes 15 years to learn. Because it's not about the learning. It's not about how many blat gemara. It's about the yeshiva environment and basking in the glow of the rebbe.

This is also why there's such disdain for parents and the home environment. It doesn't matter how frum the parents are or how much they know about halacha. The yeshiva environment is king, it is paramount. The kids need to look up to gadolim and rebbeim, not their parents.

Finally, this is why tuition is no object and why scholarships are given out by the tens of millions across the country. It's a movement, not an education system. Money will be found. The community will subsidize. Nothing could be more important. You don't look at how to learn more in less time or for less money because it's not about the learning. We're all paying for the rebbe and that can't be done any cheaper.

ProfK said...

JS,
I agree a billion percent--it's not about the students, the parents or the education, it's all about the Rebbes. One of those quoted in the posting had a situation in his school of severe bullying. Everyone--students, teachers, rebbes, administration--knew about it. Parent complaint was duly noted, but not one thing, not ONE, was done by the yeshiva to stop the bullying. Why? Because the chief bullier was the son of a well-known, "well-loved" rebbe in the community, and obviously disciplining the son, meteing out a punishment that would be known about, would reflect badly on that rebbe, would be "hurtful" to that rebbe. The school's solution was to tell the parent of the bullied child to find a different yeshiva.

And these are the schools that believe they are better "parents" than actual parents are.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox school in the US is in deep trouble financially. Another deep sized recession will be a major blow that could see more than 10% of schools closing.

JS said...

ProfK,

Not to change the subject, but I think the "yeshivasees" movement explains a lot of what you see regarding the "expose" of Rav Bina that came out in The Jewish Week. And I'll note it's not an "expose" in any sense of the word since people have been talking about Rav Bina's behavior for decades. Here's a response to the article from Rabbi Ari Fuld a rebbe at Netiv:

“I don’t know who you are and I am not trying to threaten you in any way,” the rabbi began. “I see that you are friends on FB [Facebook] with many Netiv guys and I hope they come to their senses and drop you like a dead fish.
“I truly believe you are an evil person” for “trying to murder Rav Bina with your pen,” the rabbi continued, speculating that Yedidya, a senior at Yeshiva University and an editor of the school newspaper, “is not frum [observant]” and that he wrote the article because “you hate the fact that Rav Bina has such a positive effect on his kids [students].
“You are an evil immoral individual” whose intention “wasn’t the safety of the kids but how you can hurt Rav Bina.”

Rabbi Fuld wrote that he hopes one day Yedidya will have sons who will realize how “sick and immoral” their father is and run away to Rav Bina, who will take them in.

See the original article here

And the Rabbi Fuld and other responses here

How anyone can read this stuff and not think we're in an era of Yeshiva Judaism I'll never understand.

Dave said...

Life will always serve stress and social pressures. Running away from those realities by sequestering your daughter is not an eitzah. It is a cop-out.

Isn't that quote (taken from the source link) a searing indictment of the entire Chareidi movement?

Somehow I don't think the RY thought that argument through...

Miami Al said...

Re: Rav Bina:

It's NOT in conflict to have a small minority of students to complain of abuse and a large majority to speak highly of the experience.

There is a reason that hazing remains popular, it works.

If you take 5% of the class and humiliate them or scapegoat them, you make the other 95% feel superior for not being in that 5%. If you can make that 95% feel that the excluded 5% "deserved it," then they don't even have a moral problem with their superiority coming at the expense of 5%.

The scapegoating of "the other" has been a huge part of building up organizations, whether it's the marine corps (ARMY = Aren't Ready to be Marines Yet), the Air Force's various hazing stories, college organizations, or in this case, a Yeshiva.

There are far less generous example in history of large national groups scapegoating a small minority (ethnic or otherwise), but I don't want to draw comparisons between what looks like allegations educational hazing with actually examples of national repression.

It looks like Orthodox organizations are extremely comfortable with a quasi-elitist approach and demonization of "the other" to maintain their conformity. This is certainly effective, but IMO, morally questionable.

But you see it in the subtle (and not so subtle) bigotry all over the place. Some bigotry is basic racism, others is more subtle, the implication that all non-Frum college students are alcoholic fornicators. Orthodox Jews hold their heads up, not so much proud of who they are, but proud of who they are not.

Right or wrong, it seems pretty effective, so it seems unlikely to change.

AztecQueen2000 said...

Most of the arguments at the round table focused not on academics, but on socialization. (And the academic argument sounded weak given the statistics on homeschoolers outranking the traditionally schooled on standardized tests.) It seems, then, that the whole point of going to school, is not to learn, but to make friends. (One rabbi even stated that most students will forget the materials being taught, but remember the teacher or students--an odd statement to make about an educational institution.)However, most schools place a premium on silent classrooms. Most students spend eight hours a day in school, and maybe one hour of that really engaged in "socialization." The rest of the time is spent either listening to the teacher, or completing assignments.

Mark said...

Miami Al - I am appalled at career educators that will imply, or flat out state, that the "social aspects" of school are MORE IMPORTANT than the education.

For the most part, these aren't "career educators". Career educators are trained in education. These are "mechanchim", or Rebbes/Morahs with Yeshiva/Seminary/Kollel education (at best). Most of which don't even meet the minimal basic requirements to teach in a school that is regularly examined with respect to education qualification (like most public schools and some private schools are).

And they really do believe that the social aspects outweigh the education aspects of school. That's because their primary goal is to keep the kids frum and keep them within their particular haskafic lifestyle. Their secondary goal is to lead them on a certain path until they marry and have a family of their own. And maybe, just maybe, their tertiary goal is education.

Mr. Cohen said...

Even without homeschooling, most yeshivahs are deep in debt, and struggle to pay their teachers.

Homeschooling takes students away from yeshivahs, which takes money away from yeshivahs, which pushes yeshivahs closer to financial collapse and not being able to pay their teachers and permanently closing their doors.

I agree with the logic of the moderator, but I also understand the fears of the yeshivahs.

Yael Aldrich said...

There will never be an avalanche of frum (or any other group) homeschoolers. The lifestyle has many positive benefits but no one ever said it didn't take time, dedication and usually one parent home (close to) full time.

The frum world has itself painted into a corner with ostentatious desires for cars, household help, vacations and the like to be able to homeschool in droves. We planned our family's lives with the help of H' and diligence to be able to have be stay at home full time and homeschool.

If there ever could be a homeschool epidemic massive numbers of frum Jews will have to move out of the Tri-State area, figure out how to get rid of or never get into massive debt and live frugally. I cannot conceive of this happening until the next generation, if then.

Abe said...

They are right. It's about social engineering, and homeschooling is less effective.

tesyaa said...

It's about social engineering, and homeschooling is less effective.

Agreed; but this very fact is problematic. While the rabbis tell people Orthodoxy is all about halacha and Hashem's divine will, anyone can see that the social conformity is paramount. When people see that the rabbis don't exactly practice what they preach, they naturally start to question what else the rabbis are disingenuous about.

Sure, there are wonderful rabbis out there, but even the most wonderful, sincere people I know also sincerely believe in the social engineering aspect.

Anonymous said...

Social engineering on an unstable cliff.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a relatively new innovation to educate Jewish girls in a school environment? Until Beis Yaakov started, about a hundred years ago, Jewish girls were socialized into Jewish life at home, for thousands of years. True, they learn a lot more about Judaism (and other things) these days, but if your priority is socialization, homeschooling should be ideal. School originally offered education, which nowadays, with educated parents who have time to teach, can be done at home.

Ahavah Gayle said...

It's all about power and money - the Ravs have a great and growing fear of losing them. Unfortunately, the collapse of the dayschool system is inevitable now. There is no way to lower dayschool costs significantly enough to make any real difference for most families. This, and people's incomes are slowly eroding away as our wages and benefits are slowly but surely lowered to those of our third world "trading partners." It is a paradigm shift that most communities are simply not prepared to deal with.

It is a sacrifice to homeschool, that's very true. One parent has to stay home. That parent has to be reasonably educated and have similar friends so that between everyone's strengths and weaknesses, all subjects can be covered competently. Sometimes, you're learning the material yourself the week before it's presented to the kids. It's not "free" either - a good set of textbooks and workbooks and software will still set you back some cash - approaching thousand or so a child (though you can keep and trade stuff for younger children who come along later). That cost includes museum trips, lectures, tours, team sports, music lessons and other things that kids need to supplement an all-day-at-home situation which can get as boring and stressful as school if not handled carefully. Your group will also need to hire a Torah teacher if no one in the group is qualified, and most women aren't (obviously). Fortunately, it's not that hard to find a man who needs some $ and is willing to work a couple hours a day with a small group of well-behaved, motivated and inquisitive students.

The great advantage of homeschooling is knowing your child will get a higher score on achievement tests, have a well-rounded academic education, and will be employable in the real world - all without sacrificing any halacha or Torah knowledge. In this economy, those things are priceless. In Yeshiva, they don't care about the real world and don't hesitate to tell you if you ask.

My two youngest sons are Torah observant and got very good ACT and SAT scores, as well as good scores on all their required state testing every couple of years. One is first year political science major, the other wants to go into medical research and has been invited to a prestigious summer program opportunity at a university before he starts college. They have plenty of friends, both in shul and around the neighborhood.

My oldest son? Not so much. He attended Yeshiva, and I despair of him ever being gainfully employed. His skills and knowledge are inadequate, to say the least, and he is not motivated to improve them. The Yeshivas denigrate secular knowledge, in my experience, to the point of insanity. IMHO, his yeshiva experience was a horrible waste of money we could ill afford. I'm hoping it didn't ruin his life. I am ever so thankful that H' enabled us to move away from NY and start a new life away from the insanity that the system has become. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, and the more people save their kids from it the better off the Jewish community in general will be. That "socialization" they're selling is not what kids need - and in fact is harming them.

My opinion, of course. Anecdotal evidence. You need not agree.

JS said...

I'm curious since I didn't really see much disagreement above: if people have these attitudes toward yeshivas and towards the rebbeim, what practical impact does that have on you or your family? For example, do you not send to yeshiva? Are you not close with any rabbis? Has it hurt your faith? Or are you able to separate the religion from its leadership?

I made the point about about "Yeshiva Judaism" or the "Yeshivasees" - do you see yourself as being on the outside looking in? Not being fully integrated into Orthodoxy because of your views?

Ahavah Gayle said...

I am very close to my Rabbi, and he is also one of the teachers of my sons, and he is trying to help my oldest son, also, get his act together. I don't feel like I'm not integrated, but it no doubt true that we don't share many of the experiences and concerns of those still stuck in the dayschool/yeshiva system.

My main complaint is that, as I said, the dayschool/yeshiva system is going to collapse anyway. Homeschool cooperatives are probably the only viable alternative to public school, whether they are strong on academics or not. But instead of helping to form them and help the community transition to the new reality, they cling to the old, failing model and as this article shows, work against helping people get out of the dysfunctional system. It's not serving the kids and it's bankrupting parents - it needs to be replaced with something. Anything. More of the same just isn't going to work. Kids need a strong academic education and parents need something affordable. These little empires are going to crash and burn - but there will be nothing in place for the kids when it does, because the Ravs are actively working against it.

It's suicide. The kids will end up with no education at all for a while, then the state will coerce parents into putting them in public schools. The time to start moving to a new model is now, in an orderly fashion. But it just isn't going to happen, and those who try will (if they stay in their old neighborhoods) find themselves shunned and ostracized. The Ravs do this because they are expecting money to fall from the sky and everything to magically be fixed so they can go on with business as usual. It's not going to happen. In the meantime, families are literally being destroyed by the costs of dayschool and yeshiva and then still have to support their kids who are at a huge disadvantage competing for jobs when they graduate.

This just can't go on.

Shoshana Z. said...

My husband and I thank Hashem every day for our decision to homeschool our children. This post is a potent reminder of why we have chosen this path for our family.

Anyone who wants the real scoop on Orthodox Jewish Homeschooling should attend the conference in Baltimore on May 6. You can also read my blog - http://sustainable-jewish-schooling.blogspot.com. I post almost daily about my family's journey as frum homeschoolers. Thank you Sephardi Lady for adding me to your blogroll. :)

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

First - everybody come to the conference in Baltimore, please!
I have 2 in high school (always schooled) and 2 younger ones hs'ing now.
For JS, who wrote, "if people have these attitudes toward yeshivas and towards the rebbeim, what practical impact does that have on you or your family? For example, do you not send to yeshiva? Are you not close with any rabbis? Has it hurt your faith? Or are you able to separate the religion from its leadership?"

YES - big time. You have to separate, but on the other hand, if you choose an institution and send your children there, I think it's VERY important to treat the school, teachers, etc with the utmost respect.

I have many strong opinions about my kids' chinuch, but would never contradict what a teacher has said in front of the child. My daughter (15) came home with some iffy views on non-Jews she'd picked up in a hashkafa class with her menahel and by golly, I sat down with the menahel and said, "what's up with that?"

But I do feel so desperately that these institutions are failing our kids. I see typos on almost everything that comes out of the frum community and as a decently-educated Westerner, it makes my heart bleed that our generation has to choose between being literate and being frum.

That doesn't mean I'm choosing academics over socialization and all that other good stuff. But I believe my children can get a first-rate immersion all of it... based in the place where they feel most comfortable and content.

Thanks for this post; you (easily) made my day. :-)))

Mike S. said...

The Orthodox school in the US is in deep trouble financially. Another deep sized recession will be a major blow that could see more than 10% of schools closing.

That 10% of a type of business will be forced to close in a deep recession is hardly a sign that the type of business is in trouble. The notion that no school should ever be forced out of business is one of the problems with the educational system, not only in the orthodox world but in public schools and university as well. If the poorer performing schools were to close, it would be good for education at all levels. It would improve the average.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

JS: Yes, but I do believe the schools here are a cut above. They (the ones the I send to) also don't really buy into the whole "Yeshivish" thing (at least for grade & High school). My schools are one of the main reasons why I live in my community, just like someone from Westchester would buy there for the public schools.

Homeschooled said...

I think I might be the only one here who was homeschooled, but correct me if I am wrong.
I was homeschooled, not because of inadequate schools but because of a lack of schools within commuting distance. There are some real pluses to it, such as when I went to a "real school" later on, I could not understand why we had to waste so much time coloring or doing nonsense work. I learned to be a "self-starter" and get my homework done earlier in the day because procrastinating didn't eliminate work (unlike what some counterparts say about distracting the teacher with random questions). When I joined the world of "normal kids" (*nausea* at the implication I am not normal by these rabbanim) a teacher asked us to guess what will happen next in the book we were reading. I asked "what if we finished it already" and got a lecture on how we were only supposed to read until chapter 5. I said I read it 3 years before ever entering the school. Ouch.
Many of these rabbanim have not met parents who REALLY homeschool their children (rather than babysitting).
Yes, socialization was hard but then again, I am one of those geeky-get-stuffed-in-locker types, so would going to a "real school" have changed anything? Yes- I wouldn't be allowed to be the geeky/knowledgeable type.Verbotten to know the stuff nerds know. There will always be my type in the schools, despite socialization!!
I could go on a rant about the greatness of homeschooling for a lot longer but will spare you all. But bottom line- for the right student/parent combo, homeschooling could be the greatest experience ever.

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

@Homeschooled: Most of the rabbis didn't say anything negative about the ACADEMIC experience, but implied heavily that a child's yiddishkeit would suffer as a result of homeschooling. I would love it if you could speak to that aspect of their comments because there's really nothing about Torah or Judaism in your comments.

tesyaa said...

Jennifer, you may have noticed that not one of the mechanchim mentions that some percentage of yeshiva students receiving the full "immersive" experience goes off the derech.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the Yiddishkeit aspect, because you don't have that much control over your kids' future religiosity, whether you homeschool or not. All you can do is show your kids how much you love it, how much you love Hashem, how much it adds to your life, and what a good lifestyle it can be.

The mechanchim seemingly either don't realize that or don't want you to realize that.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an ever increasing trend to not trust parents with raising their own children. An ever longer school day, calls to eliminate vacations, mandatory summer camp, and sending ninth graders to sleep away schools when there are fine local schools, are all attempts to place children under greater control of the rabonnim and lessen the influence of parents. Homeschooling, of course, would be a direct attack at this philosophy.