Thursday, September 14, 2006

parent orientation power play

I should just avoid parent orientation night at school. For the first time ever I had to simply walk out between teachers to come home because I was too upset to sit through the whole thing. The ma’aseh as it occurred (7th grade, boys school), names omitted: Rebbe gives presentation on his “derech” and concludes by asking for questions. Parent raises hand and asks what could be done about the sheets. “Meaning what?” asks the Rebbe. Parent replies, “They writing is so horrendous that the kids cannot make it out.” Rebbe begins by saying since he was asked in public he will reply in public and asks parent how old his oldest child is. “25,” answers parent. Rebbe indignantly asks, “You mean your oldest child is 25 years old, has gone through school, and you don’t know that is not the way to speak to a Rebbe!” After a bit more lambasting he went on to ask who this parent’s son was and remarked that now he understands why the same child complained about the sheets the day before – he of course heard it at home. This continued for a bit more back and forth, but I think you get the gist from my paraphrase. This is one week into school in public at a general orientation meeting. Yes, perhaps the parent's question was a bit blunt, but b’mechilas kvodo of this Rebbe, if you cannot find a way to diffuse this situation with a little wit or perspective, find another profession. Maybe more on the "derech" later if I am not too frustrated to write about it.


  1. yehuda1:32 PM

    Perhaps the rebby should of reponded differently however(1)the parent wasn't just 'perhaps a bit blunt'- you quote him as being malbim p'nei chavorey b'rabbim by saying the writing is horrendous etc.Assuming he was allowed to say so publicly he should of said "I have difficulty reading the sheets can they be written in a way it would be easier for us?"(2)It is not so simple that someone may not return an insult right after it was publicly given to him so lets be easier on the rebbi.

  2. Bill Selliger2:14 PM

    Holy cow I don't believe you. Holy cow. Holy cow.

    You're letting your child sit in a classroom with this yutz for a year? Public school is a better option.

  3. >>>(2)It is not so simple that someone may not return an insult right after it was publicly given to him
    What is mutar and what is the best approach are different questions. Here, the parent may have been wrong, but the Rebbe is equally wrong. World of difference between commanding respect and demanding respect.

    Bill, I feel the same way obviously. I have to write about homeschooling sometime. We tried it for a short time (my wife is still a big fan of it), and I am not sure it is not the better option in many cases, but with boys who you want to get into HS it is a bit hard because of perception. One day soon the tuition crisis will just become too much to bear and the shallowness and scam of the current ed system will become too much for anyone with seichel to bear and maybe things will change. Until then, people like me just sit back in abject frustration.
    And I haven't even gotten to his shpiel on his 'derech' of teaching yet. The great thing is these kids will grow up thinking this is what chinuch is like and the system reinforces itself.

  4. Bill Selliger3:52 PM

    And then you're stuck with the challenge of telling your son his Rebbi is wrong (and acting like a moron), while still getting him to respect him. Ugh. What a nightmare.

  5. jeffrey smith4:53 PM

    And presumably you picked the best school you could find? Then what does that say about the rest? I would vote for homeschooling now. If the HS your son wants to enter is actually a good one, they'll be flexible enough.

    It is true the parent could have expressed himself in gentler ways. "Your handwriting is often hard to read. Are you sure you're not an MD?"

  6. >>>I would vote for homeschooling now. If the HS your son wants to enter is actually a good one, they'll be flexible enough.

    Not necessarily. There are definitely places we would consider sending him that would frown on anything outside the 'mainstream' curriculum. The major hurdle is gemara, which my wife cannot teach, which is why the idea works better for girls than for boys.

  7. I am a Rebbe myself and it is my opinion that all sheets should be computerized. There are exceptions where the Rebbe writes sheets that are legible and neat, but as a general rule, it should be done by computer, especially because the options of creating enticing sheets where the children will have more of a desire to do the sheets.