Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Hasidic schools fight educational standards

with 2 comments

I’m surprised at the level of animosity against subjects that seem religiously neutral to me: mathematics, for example, and basic scientist like chemistry. Read Jennifer Miller’s description in the NY Times of what strikes me as a crippling education:

Naftuli Moster was a senior at the College of Staten Island when he first heard the word “molecule.” Perplexed, he looked around the classroom. Nobody else seemed confused. Yet again, because of gaps in his early education, Mr. Moster was ignorant of a basic concept that everybody else knew.

“I felt embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “Every single time I didn’t know something, I thought, ‘I’m too crippled to make it through.’ ”

Mr. Moster had grown up one of 17 children in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where most Hasidic men marry young and, right after finishing yeshiva, or high school, either immediately enter the work force or dedicate themselves to Talmudic studies. But if Mr. Moster’s educational ambitions were unusual among his peers, his limited grasp of English was not.

There are 250 Jewish private schools in New York City, and though some schools, like Ramaz on the Upper East Side, have intensive secular curriculums, many do not. Nearly one-third of all students in Jewish schools are “English language learners,” according to the city’s Department of Education. Yiddish is the Hasidic community’s first language, and both parents and educators report that many boys’ schools do not teach the A B C’s until children are 7 or 8 years old. Boys in elementary and middle school study religious subjects from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by approximately 90 minutes of English and math. At 13, when boys formally enter yeshiva, most stop receiving any English instruction. . .

Continue reading.

A senior in college, educated in the US—indeed, in New York City—and never heard the word “molecule.”

I do not like to cast aspersions, but it seems very much as if the emphasis is only keeping the young as ignorant as possible—cf. Christian fundamentalists home-schooling their children, the Taliban, and others of the ilk.

The problem, as I see it, is that education—particularly in the liberal arts—really does make free men and free women from children: it liberates them (thus: liberal arts) because it exercises and trains important analytical skills that are anathema to any authoritarian organization: liberal education emphasizes thinking for yourself, seeking real-world evidence before making judgment, respecting all equally (rather than respect upwards, contempt downwards, which seems typical of hierarchical and authoritarian structures—probably because one must please those above (who are more powerful) but doesn’t have to worry about those below (powerless compared to oneself). In effect, the liberal arts teach one not only that s/he should question authority, but provides the skills to present the best questions possible. Authority hates that, as do authoritarians. In fact, it is frightening: people no longer know their place, the social order is upset, and probably a certain wave of … not exactly regret or apology, but of realization how one’s actions might have appeared to others who were not oneself.

So when you find wholesale rejection of the liberal arts—as is happening in the US—then that is happening for a reason, and it’s useful to consider what those reasons might be. Exactly who doesn’t want the public having and exercising critical thinking skills?

UPDATE: Well, Texas for one.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2014 at 10:17 am

Posted in Education

2 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on The Grey Enigma.

    The Grey Enigma

    23 November 2014 at 1:54 pm

  2. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

    Paul H. Lemmen

    23 November 2014 at 2:24 pm


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