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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Secular Education II - A Guest Post from the Trenches

In response to our last post Frumnet received the following:

My son was totally electrified by a feature story on a similar topic in a chareidi magazine and I feel to put it mildly a rather strong obligation to share with your readership my perspective on this most critical issue of General Studies within the Torah World of Education.

I must give you a bit of personal background for you to fully appreciate and understand my perspective on this issue. I do so, plagued by a Catch 22. Humility is a very tricky issue. I am really not here to toot my horn. Writing this is very uncomfortable for me but I think the message is too important to remain silent.

In 1971 I dropped out of college at eighteen to attend Yeshiva in New York. I had received up until that time a fine education for fourteen years. My secular passion centered around the liberal arts realm of Academia. I had dreamed of becoming a History Professor but instead I found myself immersed in learning in Yeshiva for the next thirty years. On the way I had the zchus to learn in Torah Vadaas, Chofetz Chaim, Torah Ohr, and in an afternoon Mechanchim Kollel here in the city where I have taught Yiddishe Kinder for the past seventeen years.

Being a Day School Rebbe and needing to supplement my income I felt forced to leave the Koslei Bais haMedrash and find some gainful employment in something with whichI knew I would have a natural affinity. I asked my Rav his advise on the matter who replied, “To Thine Own Self Be True” in which I whimsically replied, “No Rebbe, that’s Polonius, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rebbe really means Socrates, Know Thy Self.”

My three sons who have already graduated three different Yeshiva High Schools in three different states unanimously were opposed to the idea. The basic thrust of their opposition was they didn’t want to see their father become a garbage man. All three had their own horror stories of the general studies programs of Yeshiva High School. Basically the system stinks. They are right. A General Studies teacher is a glorified garbage man in what he is forced to endure during Limudei Chol in the afternoon.

I did not heed their advice and took the position motivated by the monetary considerations. I was pleasantly surprised to discover an enthusiastic reception by the talmidim for a meaningful encounter with the real issues of Western Civilization. I attribute my success this year to the decision not to make teaching History my objective of the class but rather to use it as a Haiche Temzta to teach Hashkafas HaTorah which I received from my Rebbeim.

Our present Yeshiva system of Torah education has failed to inculcate our talmidim with an appreciation of the Dignity of Man. The terminology may differ from the Hirschian Universal Man or the Slobadka Ideal of Godlus HaAdam . Call it what you like, our Yeshiva system desperately needs to inject our talmidim with a spirit of ethical excellence in every sphere of life whether it is within the Koslei Bais HaMedrash or the secular department of a Yeshiva High School. It can be done.



Blogger Leapa said...

Note from Leapa:

Your last paragraph is very optimistic - indicating to me that your secular studies yeshiva is either left wing or out of town.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous insideatrojantrench said...

the yeshiva is right wing anti college holds very rigid guidelines which adheres to an oppressive censorship that is stifling educationally. the bochurim suffer terribly from the rigidity but that is probably true in any organization. the issue of giving an institution of learning a sense of humaninty and compassion is not a new problem.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Tess Young said...

Hello There,
I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
Thanks for your time,

1:11 PM  

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