Thursday, 17 Nisan, 5784
  |  April 25, 2024

The Awesome Role of Today’s Educators

Op-Ed by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon of Cincinnati: "An educator asked me the following question: 'Why is it that so many of today’s youth are turned off from Yiddishkeit because of something relatively small that a teacher says or does?'" Full Story

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August 1, 2023 10:27 am

Chazal (in Pirkei Avos) had long forewarned: חכמים, הזהרו בדבריכם. A misunderstood edict from teachers (to serve Hashem even without getting reward) led to the founding of Baysusim and Karayim (who rejected the words of the Rabbis based on a misunderstanding that the Rabbis claim there is no reward for serving Hashem). The sages warned us that students are sensitive and can take one word and misapply with huge negative consequences. This is NOT a “new” phenonium as Rabbi Avtzon tries to assert, but it has been happening for all time. At the beginning of time, the nochosh was able… Read more »

Reply to  Mushkie
August 1, 2023 1:15 pm

“שני תלמידים היו לו לאנטיגנוס איש סוכו ושמם צדוק וביתוס,
ושנה להם: “אל תהיו כעבדים המשמשים את הרב על מנת לקבל פרס”;
כיון ששמעו הדבר הזה, הלכו ושנו הדבר לתלמידיהם ותלמידי תלמידיהם,
ואמרו דבר בשם אומרו.
אמרו: אלו היו יודעים אבותינו שתחיית המתים ומתן שכרם של צדיקים בעולם הבא,
לא היו אומרים כן ושונים כך?!
הלכו ויצאו ופירשו להן, ויצאו מהם שתיים משפחות רעות, צדוקים וביתוסים,
צדוקים על שם צדוק, וביתוסים על שם ביתוס”. (אבות דרבי נתן פ”ה ב’)

public school
August 1, 2023 10:47 am

everyone do something to rescue all the lost tinok shinoshba jews from public schools now! Save their souls and get them out of there

public school ?
Reply to  public school
August 3, 2023 3:51 am

How does that relate to the situation?

Well written
August 1, 2023 11:57 am

If you think it’s only school and teachers that turn off kids, camp is another issue, it’s not school, yes you need to follow rules etc, but give the kids a breather stop being so hard on them, not all kids are cookie cutters. Not all kids are in that little mood and can’t be molded. Kids should have a love for Yiddishkeit and proud of who they are. Throwing kids out of camp and school you the teachers carry the blood on your hands for breaking the kids and killing their self esteem. When will these teachers learn, it’s… Read more »

Mrs. S.
Reply to  Well written
August 1, 2023 12:58 pm

Couldn’t agree more…so true I have seen it over and over…

Very simple
Reply to  Mrs. S.
August 1, 2023 2:35 pm

My OTD son was asked what should be done to keep kids on the derech, he said teachers should treat their students the way shluchim treat their mekuravim.

And Parents..?
Reply to  Very simple
August 1, 2023 5:00 pm

And parents should treat the melamdim like the baalei baatim treat their shluchim (and I’m not even talking about financially).

(And of course, to any and all supportive parents reading this, obviously we don’t mean you. You possibly already see the difference in your kids chinuch that your support makes)

In answer to the question
August 1, 2023 12:06 pm

Why are youth turned off today by something small that a teacher does or says? Children are born to look upto adults. When a adult teacher parent family member does something contrary to Torah even small, it has an effect. A lot of adults ( in their 40s) are more and more not practicing what they are preaching (they learnt that from their parents, I understand) and the generations are going lower and lower in spirituality, so of course there are all the reasons to go off their own path to reach back to the truth of Torah what it… Read more »

Great article!
August 1, 2023 12:54 pm

I agree with much of what Rabbi Avtzon writes in this article. Together with the responsibility that we, educators have today which is a very awesome one, we are also given tremendous Kochos to fulfill our Shlichus. Having said that, we are humans and yes, as Rabbi Avtzon mentions we are not Tzadikim, we do make mistakes. As an educator, one of the most powerful things one can do is to take responsibility for one’s mistakes and yes, apologize to a child/ren we may have accused wrongly, hurt their feelings, raised our voices at them etc. I am an educator… Read more »

slightly off the mark
August 1, 2023 2:05 pm

Both teachers in your examples were outright wrong with what they said or did. The students took these acts and words differently for many reasons. one student may have been more sensitive than the other one. Perhaps words can hurt more than being physically abusive etc. Your explanation of pre and post Gimmel Tamuz is also to be questioned. A rebbi/teacher always is and needs to be a Dugma Chayah. True Mechanchim connect positively with their Talmidim with an everlasting bond. In the history of Lubavitch The Rebbeim never replaced the influence Mechanchim had on their students. They added and… Read more »

Reply to  slightly off the mark
August 1, 2023 5:04 pm

I think you think you may be slightly off the mark in regards to what his point was.

He doesn’t seem to reply that the Rebbeim replaced mechanchim..

Possible misunderstanding in this article
August 1, 2023 2:26 pm

First of all, kudos to Rabbi Avtzon for tackling this issue and especially for putting his name to his ideas. I don’t have that kind of bravery and I admire his. I read the article with interest and I especially appreciated the two stories shared. I was surprised, however, to see that such a linear evaluation was made from them. What happened to all of the other boys in the class where someone was hung out the window? How many other people were responsible for making the boy who didn’t make the honor roll feel like he was worth less… Read more »

3 ikkurim
Reply to  Possible misunderstanding in this article
August 1, 2023 7:54 pm

The definition of frum is super shabbos, kashrus and Taharas hamishpacha. Everything else is also important and required but these are the hallmarks. (Notice, btw, that these are also the three mitzvos that the responsibility of practicing were primarily given to women.)

That's what he meant
Reply to  3 ikkurim
August 1, 2023 9:57 pm

Students growing up “frum” is one kind of success in chinuch. But not the only kind.
Everyone has a yetzer hora. So a frum person does one kind of aveiros and a not frum person does a different kind.

Maybe the teachers should be the first to stop judging and more students will want to grow up to be like them?

2 missing points
August 1, 2023 3:31 pm

The first is, we cannot take anecdotal evidence and turn it into fact. Mechanchim in particular need to realize that if they’re working with a particular demographic, they’re going to see the issues in that demographic. If you’re a social worker or psychologist working with Lubavitch adults, you’ll see that the over 40s crowd have plenty of people struggling with their yiddishkeit but at that age there is usually a spouse or kids to anchor them. The 2nd point is people have been leaving yiddishkeit since Moshe Rabeinu’s times. Frum is only 10% of American Jews. And if you look… Read more »

Totty true
August 1, 2023 4:59 pm

Crazy true 100 percent agree you are amazing keep it up changing the world article by article

Wow crazy true
Reply to  Totty true
August 1, 2023 9:07 pm

Keep up the great work

Teach with chesed. Not just gevurah
August 1, 2023 5:10 pm

We need to connect to our youth on an EMOTIONAL level. As Rabbi Shimon Russel says “they won’t remember what was taught, but they’ll remember how you made them FEEL”. If a child feels that you are only there to teach, discipline and mold him, you have zero chance of reaching or impacting him. If the child feels that you love and CARE about them as a person, that’s what keeps them in our “circle”. This goes for parents, teachers, counselors… If they don’t feel that, they’ll turn anywhere that will accept them AS THEY ARE. And the alternatives are… Read more »

Teach with Chesed, Not just Gevurah
Reply to  Teach with chesed. Not just gevurah
August 2, 2023 11:01 am

“There was another boy that was already sitting in “my” place. I asked the teacher to move the boy so that I could have my seat but the teacher, being in the middle of a lesson, just motioned to me to sit in another seat.” Why does everyone think that the teacher didn’t care about him, or love him?? The teacher was in middle of a lesson so he asked him to sit in another seat temporarily. He was probably going to ask the other boy to move as soon as the lesson was over. Is that unreasonable?? Did he… Read more »

There are some teachers....
August 3, 2023 3:48 am

….who, unfortunately, would do well to find a job more suitable to their temperament. Or some need deep training in what qualities and skills are necessary to be a REAL teacher. And some may need therapy to explore their own issues as they relate to their treatment of others. Had that teacher had the presence of mind, he could have said, Ok, so-and-so is here. That’s his daily seat, so let’s get back to that arrangement.” Or he could have talked to the late student outside of the classroom to help him process the situation and come to an agreement… Read more »