Monday, December 07, 2009

Smarter School Teachers Please Redux

A Guest Post By E. Fink

Yesterday I got a phone call from the mother of a 6 year old child in a yeshiva day school. A very good yeshiva day school in fact. This is the kind of school that has a (by yeshiva standards) diverse parent body, provides a well-rounded education and has a responsible hanhala.

Here is a paraphrased transcript of the conversation and relevant events:

Mom: Rabbi? I need to ask you a question.
Me: Sure, go ahead...
Mom: I picked up my child from school today and we had a conversation that disturbed me and I need some advice.
Me: What happened?
[child and mom had the following conversation]
Child: "next report card probably won't be as good as my last report card...
Mom: Why? How are you so certain?
Child: My teacher was teaching us how to wash netilas yadayim properly and one of the things the teacher said was that if we dry our hands on our shirt we will forget our Torah learning, I never knew that before and I used to dry my hands on my shirt (and I won't ever do it again), so probably I am going to forget the Torah that I learned and that's why I am not going to have such a good report card.
Mom: (a little panicked) Hmm. Let me call the Rabbi...
[back to the adult conversation]
Mom: Is it possible that my child will forget their Torah learned? What was the teacher talking about?
Me: That was an irresponsible thing for the teacher to say. You're child won't magically forget what they learned.
Mom: So do I tell my child that the teacher is wrong? What if the child thinks the teacher is right and I am wrong?
Me: Schools and teachers are surrogates for parents, we hold the primary obligation to teach our children, your child must know that you are their final authority. Also, there is no real conflict here in terms of rules, both you and the teacher agree that one should dry one's hands on a paper-towel, if available, so in this situation the chasm is not too great. Be sure to call the teacher or a superior and let them know that you are disappointed with this lesson.
Mom: Thanks Rabbi, you deserve a raise. (I kid.) [hangs up]
Rabbi: Heads over to computer to write a post on DovBear about "Smarter School Teachers Please".

The original "Smarter School Teachers Please" post.

Search for more information about magically forgetting all your Torah at

No comments: