Thursday, December 07, 2006

Development Opportunities in Yeshivah Education

Harry Maryles writes the following at the end of his post:

There are two areas of education that need to be the focus if this issue is to be properly tackled. One is the teaching of morals. The other is dealing with the psychology of human sexuality. Our educators need to start implementing seriously, a curriculum that deals with these issues in tandem.

I agree the issue needs to be dealt with. Two questions:

(1) How is the issue dealt with in Modern Orthodox yeshivos, if at all?

(2) Dealing with human sexuality, especially in charedi High Schools would need to take into account tzniyus(modesty) aspects of discussions.

Perhaps small vaadim(groups) are better than large classroom settings for tzniyus purposes; I think I've seen this suggestion in a NCSY publication. Also, one needs the right person to lead the discussion in an effective way, as there would be the concern of awkwardness.

One would have to clarify exactly what the goal of such courses would be. I also assume that some would have a problem entirely with the idea, and prefer that it should be addressed indirectly and obliquely in mussar shmusen.

What about preparing young people to deal with relationships in marriage, i.e., middos and interpersonal skills? There is discussion about this from time to time in the charedi world.

Another issue is appropriate recreation, hobbies, exercise, and emotional development and enrichment.

Despite gender differences, boys as well need to develop their emotional side. The concept of suppressing feelings inappropriately might be a unique issue on the male side of the equation, particularly for quieter types, because of psychological makeup or societal expectations. Society expects boys to hide "weak" emotions like fear, hurt or shame behind a stoic mask, and only anger is an acceptable emotion(Dr. William Pollack). However, one can still be a " real man" , and still develop one's emotional or nurturing side.

All of this is not a contradiction to concentration on limud hatorah and…basketball.

Toby Katz has a good review of a frum girls' magazine in the current Jewish Action(see link in this article). She discusses the concept of such a magazine for boys at the article's end, and humorously mentions difficulties involved. However, I think there can be such a magazine for boys with essays on appropriate topics; it would also be an opportunity to develop writing skills(I think, by the way, that the Jewish Observer had a feature on a writing program in the Noverminsker Yeshivah).

From the Jewish Action article:

And that would be my answer to Friedan and her ilk:

Our Orthodox youngsters are leading rich, full, useful, meaningful
lives. We have much to be grateful for, and much to be
proud of.

I only wish there were an equivalent magazine for boys.

P.S. When I read this article to my teenaged son and
daughters, they all laughed at the very idea that a boy would
be interested in stories about being friends with the nerdy
new boy in town, or what to wear to his brother’s wedding.
Oh well, scratch that.

Anyhow, this is all just some food for thought. Of course, our educators and leaders need to discuss and give guidance on these important topics.

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