The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Monday, March 07, 2005

Education by Public Relations

Mykroft made an interesting comment on my recent post discussing whether it was worthwhile for our younger son's high school to send the entire school to the Siyum Hashas. He said that it was no different than sending the kids to stand around like zombies at the Salute to Israel Parade. According to mykroft, it is all about public relations.

I think there is much truth to what he said.

The STIP is a good place to start. As any parent of kids in mainstream MO schools knows, schools will spend thousands of dollars on T-shirts and parade floats. Attendance at the STIP is mandatory (and non-attendance is punishable by death (almost)). Yet, the overwhelming majority of kids coming out of the Zionist MO schools barely knowing who David Ben Gurion was (and almost certainly not who Menachem Begin or, for example, Levi Eshkol were). They will know almost nothing about the War of Independence or the Six Day War or anything else preceding those events.

Schools make huge productions when the little ones are given their first siddurim and chumashim but will often graduate 8th graders who don't know the literal translation of "Ashrei Yoshvei Vaisecha" (to say nothing of a deeper understanding). Many will leave 8th grade not knowing how to read a Rashi.

Our kids will waste a huge amount of time year after year on science fairs that are a total joke, with topics that are just plain goofy and meaningless. (Most kids with the advantage of having older siblings will simply copy their silly projects; the younger ones often rely on their parents).

Schools will also spend resources and time on Middle States accreditation not because it adds any value but because yenim school has it and we have to keep up with the Joneses.

There are all kinds of non-learning programs that take time from the classroom, incredibly long vacations (these days you get off Erev Erev Pesach even though 2% of the people actually stay home for Pesach and do any work) there is a terrible lack of decorum in classes and ridiculous grade inflation. All of these conditions exist because the goal of the educators is not to teach but to make sure that the kids "feel good about themselves" (and, consequently, that the parents, especially the influential ones, won't give them grief).

In my day, we didn't learn because the teachers were largely inept and parents (many of whom were 'greene') had zero clue about what was going on. These days the opposite is true. We have many wonderful, motivated teachers who are not given the opportunity to teach because of the micro-meddling of parents and the consequent efforts of too many administrations to placate the parents and simply make it look like the kids are learning.


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