Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It DoesTakes a Village, but....

Today the discussion came up of when school should start next year. The problem to be addressed is do we start at the end of August or after Rosh Hashana. My administrator said, "I think it's important to start in August so that the children can learn about Rosh Hashana." Immediately my gut reacted. I thought to myself, "What are you talking about?! The is a religious Gan! All of these children come from 'frum' families. Of course they will learn about rosh hashana...from their parents!" I felt anger rising up and a lot of frustration. I realized it came from my homeschooler mentality.

Let me explain what I mean. As a homeschooler, and yes even though my children are all grown I still think like one, I do not understand this idea that the school needs to teach the children about rosh hashana at all. I expressed my feelings to my administrator, admitting that I am coming from a homeschooling mind set. I explained that I taught my children my beliefs and shared with them my ideologies. It was very important to me that what they learned, particularly spirituality, came from my heart. Right, wrong or indifferent, that is where it came from. I clarified to her that I did not have an issue with starting earlier, but that I wanted to understand her statement so I could quell the frustration I felt inside. She explained the frustration that mothers feel. They have so many children to tend to, they are working, etc. that sometimes the children will not have really had the opportunity to learn about what rosh hashana means (from their parents). She explained that the schools fill in that gap. She then went on to explain that the advantage to this is the school then has the opportunity to teach the children the holidays from the prospective of the school.


I understand and embrace the concept that it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that as a teacher I am working in harmony with the families that I serve helping them to nurture and encourage their children to grow as people and as Jews. What I do not believe in is that I am a replacement for the heart and soul of their parents faith. I believe it is their job, duty and very vocation to share the essence of their beliefs with their children. I have no agenda other than blowing upon the spark that already exists in them. I do desire to help them grow in character, to grow in their world view, to have a sincere joy and love in their faith, but as a complement to their family's faith. My administrator explained to me that what we had was a cultural difference. My paradigm versus the paradigm of the religious community I live and work in. This is a tremendous quandary for me.

I think too many parents have passed on their responsibility to teach their children and passed it on to the institutions. I realize the need for these institutions, particularly in today's society and in urban areas, but they are NOT a replacement for the family. I can even view my particular school as just an extended part of the home, a part of the village whole, but again, I cannot---will not, take the place of the parent. I do not want to. I want to help you raise your child, not raise your child. I want to share my heart with your child, not be your child's heart. Perhaps I am presuming too much. Taking myself and my position too seriously, but quite honestly, it is becasue I take parents, families and thier sacred positions so seriously.

Shouldn't parents rise up and say, "These are MY children! I will teach them my values, my beliefs and my heart. I ask you the school, the teacher to help me, to be my support! At times I may need your guidance, at times I may need to lean on you heavily. But I embrace my sacred trust and accept the brunt of the responsibility belongs to me, the parent!"

What do you folks think?? I welcome your insights.


  1. Amen! AMEN!!!! They are blessed to have you!!!!
    It is always difficult to be part of a system that is at peace with replacement. I think at the most we can encourage the children to ask their imma's and abba's to help parents wake out of their slumber, but even that is done with a prayer. If only we could break the system and have schools if so necessary teach parents to interact with their children, Maybe the parents need to go to school??? LOL
    okay I am being a smarty pants. Find comfort that HaShem has placed you there for a while!!! And that is there blessing!!! One day you won't have to go through that frustration, at that level anyway. It is difficult feeling helpless and to have to swim down stream, when your an up stream fish!!!


  2. I agree with you. I'm not Jewish, but I totally agree that the parents should be the ones to impart the religion, morality, and the bulk of the education to their children. I would hope for my children to have teachers with your vision, who support parents in teaching their children instead of trying to replace them or simply act as babysitters.

    This hits home for me right now as we end the school year. Both of my children who are in school this year have struggled, for various reasons, and I'm rethinking their education. I'm considering changing schools or possibly bringing them home. I need to take a serious look at the options and figure out what will be best for my children.

    Thank you for sharing this in such a timely manner for me.

  3. Cherlyn, thank you for your comment and sharing. When I lived in Lancaster, homeschooling was not an issue and the answer was easy. Lancaster is VERY homeschool friendly, that is very simply the culture there, homeschool, home business, home birth. Not so much in the big city and no way in the Jewish Community. When I moved to Philly eight years ago, there was a decision to be made. I thought about the schools but I could not do it. Do I think it was a perfect decision? Nope. For sure there were things that my children missed out on. Do I think it was the right decision? Good L-rd, yes. I know that some folks do not have the luxury of that decision, whether that luxury is perceived or real, but that does not excuse them from their responsibilities. (Or as one of my teachers puts it: Response-ability)I pray you find your way easily in this issue of your children's education, that you are blessed with deep wisdom on this matter and courage to do whatever is necessary. By the way, always remember the homeschool mantra: One year at a time. That is all you are committing to, whether it be a school, or a homeschool, just one year at a time. Makes the task less daunting. Blessings!!

  4. Angelique, as always dear sistah, you are a blessing and an encouragement to me. I have thought about trying to reach the parents, particularly the mothers. I would very much like to, but I tell you, there is a whole lot of peer dependent folk here. I tried last year to encourage parents meeting, classes, etc. to no avail. I will simply try again next year. Blessings!

  5. So thought provoking. I think a lot about village *and* I feel strongly about parents taking responsibility for passing on their values, ideals, what they think important, faith ... to their children, first and foremost (as opposed to relying on others to do it for them). I do understand that parents often feel that they can't quite pull all the threads together that they want for their children. But still. I agree with you that the job of schools and teachers is to serve as a support to what the parents want for their children. Ultimately though the parents need (IMHO) to take the responsibility for themselves for what they want in their childrens' lives. I admire you for taking this position. Imagine what might happen if schools voiced that position: we *help* you parents to raise your children (but we don't raise them).


Thanks so much for you comment! I look forward to reading it! Blessings!