Thursday, September 17, 2009

What's The Ideal Message To Send To Kids?

George's school held a start-of-year function for parents so that we could meet the rabbeim, teachers, etc. Personally, I think these are good things... they give parents a chance to put a face with a name, get acquainted with other parents and, most importantly, to become familiar with the curriculum and what the educators expect of the kids.

Before we broke up into individual classes, the Menahel addressed the parent body. In his remarks, he tried to make the point that we should be instilling in our children the desire to learn and to achieve in Torah. We should be willing to show our children that learning and Yiddishkeit come first and that they should be the priority of one's life. In that respect, I agree 100%. However, he used a very curious example to make the point.

He noted that there were a group of parents that made such sacrifices for the school that, should they ask for a favor, he said, he would be unable to refuse them. These parents were to be commended for their actions and the demonstration that they made to their kids in showing how important school is.

What was this great act of sacrifice, you ask? What was this noble deed that the parents did that deserved such high praise?

Apparently, these parents had scheduled family vacations during school period. They were going to pull their kids out of school for four or five days or longer so that they could go to Florida or wherever. And yet, once they became aware of how important yeshiva was, they changed their tickets (at extra cost to them) so as to send the message to their kids that going to yeshiva was more important than vacation.

I don't want to undermine what the parents did -- indeed, by spending the extra money to change their plans, they did demonstrate a commitment. But I'm kind of curious as to why that is the "ultimate" act that got such high praise. To tell the truth, as a parent who wouldn't even think of pulling a kid out of school for a vacation in the first place, I was kind of peeved. I would think that our policy on this (which the kids are well aware of) would be even more praiseworthy... but apparently not. I guess to send my kid the right message, I have to first arrange to pull them out of school for a vacation and then reschedule.

Yeah, I know it's petty on my part... but that's the feeling I had last night.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

It's called Prodigal Son Syndrome. It disgusts me too, but apparently has been human nature for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I thought the story would be about someone making a large gift. Shnorring is so much a part of the yeshiva culture, truly disgusting.

Izgad said...

This is my first year teaching in a Jewish high school. The parents went around to the various class rooms and the teachers gave seven minute mini-lessons. I spoke about why Brutus assassinating Julius Caesar is historical fact while Jesus rising from the dead is someone's opinion.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought. We always taught our children quite the opposite. Never let school (or yeshiva) get in the way of your education.

Anonymous said...

Wolf, I hear ya. It could be this family is on a lower level than you and the principal was very happy that they were changing their priorities. But again, I know where you are coming from.

BrooklynWolf said...

It could be this family is on a lower level than you and the principal was very happy that they were changing their priorities.

Eeees said something similar to that last night when I showed her the post.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Just to play devil's advocate for a moment, depending on the particular child and whether or not they will fall behind or feel left out, I don't think pulling a child out of school for a few days for a family vacation is a problem. Family time is important and parents working long hours to pay tuition need some vacation for their sanity. Not everyone has the luxury of working somewhere where you can pick and chose your vacation dates, particularly if you are low in seniority or you just happen to work for a corporation that doesn't care about it's employees. I have a friend who works for a corporation that tells him when he can take a vacation. He can't pick and chose. Other people I know have to put in their vacation days a year in advance. If the school doesn't issue its calendar well in advance or the parent doesn't know what school the child will be in, then coordinating schedules becomes almost impossible.

I don't think that parents who can afford to change their flight plans and have the luxury of chosing their vacation dates necessarily deserve being treated as heros. I thought the honor would go to parents who did volunteer work at the school or volunteered to do fundraising.

Lion of Zion said...

when the jewish schools arrange their vacation time more in line with the rest of the country and when they do away with sunday school, then they can give mussar about pulling kids out for family time.