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.