Apr 21, 2012
Growing Rather Than Sailing
The bochur behind the op-ed "Sailing Through Yeshiva Life" follows-up with a second article, this time with suggestions.
My op-ed has received a lot of feedback. People seem to been taking this issue very seriously. Now it is time to move on to the next step: Do something!
In order to do something we need to know what to do, and in order to know what to do, we need to know what the issue actually is.
So, again, the problem is that good bochurim are wasting their yeshiva years, not getting anything substantial done, contrary to the whole basis of Tomchei Temimim and "chasyiddishkeit." Tomchei Temimim is supposed to generate real leaders, people that are going to literally turn over the world, and there's no room for complacency. In order to be a successful leader or entrepreneur you need discipline, structure, and intense motivation.
I'm going to quote part of a comment I read which affirms most eloquently what we must do now: "AHA! Sparking some VERY important exchange! Could that mean that this is a very important topic? Could it mean that its time has come? I dare believe it IS time! I dare we need all take heed of the interchange here, and assess the situation from an honest (yes, honest) point of view. Speak to a variety of students, from a variety of grade levels.
"Ask them if they felt honored as a student/human/neshama. Ask them how they felt if ever they needed support and were ignored or shunned. Ask them if they ever DID need assistance. Take the positive. Take the negative. Take the in-between. Come together to PUT it all together, Consult experts in the field, all kinds of philosophies included.
"Some of us have felt validated, some of us have been offended, challenged, confused, superior to it all, condescending to it all, in denial, in ignorance, in support, open to growth or change, and more. It's the way it goes. But let's keep on dealing with it."
This comment, along with many other, more detailed descriptions of solutions come together to form one overall conclusion of what we need to do.
It seems that our problem: complacency and lack of avodah, structure, motivation and growth stems from a lack of goals, achievement, and accountability. So if we can cultivate these qualities in the bochurim in both mesivta and zal, it should effectively eliminate the issues at hand, and create motivated and goal-striving bochurim who can think on their feet and conquer the world. Many of you had suggestions on how to do so.
Here is a combination of a few which I think is absolutely attainable and on target: First, we need to combat the attitude that just sitting and learning is enough, and enact specific goals, steps to achieve them, and positive reinforcement for doing so. In order to do this, our mashpiim and teachers need to know what these things are and how to carry them out, and for this, we need some experts in this area to help them.
We can also introduce new, more practical learning. For example, we could teach skills that improve mivtzoim, merkos shlichus, and shlichus performance. Fundraising, marketing, budget management, this would improve the bochurim's performance in yeshivah, since they will be learning something concrete and practical, and also beyond yeshivah in the real world, be it shlichus or business. This would also generate more interest in yeshiva itself and bochurim will be there because they want to be there. Not because someone else wants them to be there or because there's nowhere else to go.
I think you will agree that these suggestions will give the bochurim the structure needed to carry them through yeshivah and beyond with the above mentioned traits of growth, achievement, motivation, and accountability. This solution is both practical and appropriate because it deals with the problem very effectively while still upholding the fundamentals of Tomchei Temimim.
Now this is where you come into the picture.
Every single person who sees the urgency of the matter must employ all of his or her abilities to form a solid, lasting change in this area. If you are involved in the field of yeshivas and education, you know what to do, get out there and do it! However if you, like most of us, are not involved in that area, there are many things you can do. You can write a letter, call, email, or speak to bochurim, hanholo, teachers, and educational experts. Now is the time to take action and end the bad cycle we've drifted into. Wishing you all Brocho Vehatzlocho in all your endeavors.
An ordinary bochur