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Monday, August 05, 2013

Why Mainstream?

I caught a story from VIN news regarding a Yeshiva that opened illegally and is trying to make it right.  While the commentators hash out the issue of opening without permits, I will leave that issue alone.  I'm a t crosser and an i dotter.  The culture of just doing without getting all the ducks in order is foreign to my way of thinking.

However, I have to say that I absolutely loved what I saw on the posted video (it is in Yiddish, but you should get the gist regardless).  These boys are learning in a different format, but they are also taking care of their yeshiva and each other through gardening, cooking, vocational projects, sports, and more.  When it comes to modern, conventional (aka traditional) education, it is fairly clear from most of what I've read, that education is built for girls, not boys.  When I see a school with kids out doing with their hands and with their bodies, in addition to book learning, as a parent of boys, I'm intrigued and inspired myself.  How nice it is to see boys taking care of their environment, taking responsibility for food preparation, lawn mowing, gardening, etc, etc.

And yet, the goal remains to "mainstream" these boys as evidenced in the VIN article:  "Berko estimates that the yeshiva has an 85 percent success rate.  Almost 100 students have gone on to mainstream yeshiva."  Personally, I'd consider it more of a success if the "mainstreaming" were in the opposite direction, i.e. watching "mainstream" yeshivot adopting some of the practices seen on the video!


Mark said...

Very nice. Reminds me of school as a child in Israel. About once a month I would miss morning classes to help the cook prepare lunch. They rotated and took a few kids each day.

Mr. Cohen said...

In the 1980s there was a yeshivah in Monsey that routinely violated fire code laws that were designed for the safety of all residents. The teachers in that yeshivah were owed many years of unpaid wages.

The head of that yeshivah was later caught by an electronic recording device committing a major sex scandal, which was also very contrary to the laws of Judaism. His reputation and yeshivah were ruined. The incident was reported in major secular newspaper and television news, which obviously was a very huge Chillul HaShem.

The moral of this story: Yeshivahs that deliberately violate secular laws are prime candidates for also violating Torah laws and making Chillul HaShem.

Orthonomics said...

Mr. Cohen, My own professional experience shows me that there are those that can be re-positioned with the right intervention because they simply don't "get it" and those that are impossible to deal with because they can't take advice and direction.

I have no idea if this yeshiva can be saved from itself in the long run.

I do wish that more yeshiva schools would adopt some of the educational philosophy that I see in the video clip. Today's boys as a whole are really struggling in schools as a whole. I discuss this with both non-Jewish friends of mine from swanky suburbia to places where there is serious urban blight to Jewish friends of mine across the spectrum of observance.

The model of taking responsibility, learning skills, caring for one's environment should be "mainstream" in my opinion. Life is about taking responsibility, finding joy in obligation to others, and pursuing goals (happiness).

Orthonomics said...

should read can't take advice/direction or have simply perverted outlook

Abacaxi Mamao said...

Girls would benefit from opportunities to spend time outdoors, moving their bodies, and gaining practical skills (in addition to book learning), too!

Abacaxi Mamao said...

(Even if girls have an easier time being compliant and sitting in class for long periods of time, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are learning optimally or enough or in a way that is enjoyable.)

Critiquer said...

I understand what you mean about liking to see the students taking care of their yeshiva. In a mainstream yeshiva, I can see that translating into being responsible for their dorm room and throwing out their trash after meals etc. but a yeshiva is a place of learning Torah. It is not a vocational school. So I don't see why a mainstream yeshiva should turn into a vocational school. There is a need for both kinds of institutions.

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