Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Parents as Teachers, Teachers as Parents

In David Brooks, Education, Judaism, Parents, Teachers, Teaching on March 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

David Brooks put his two cents in regarding the Prez’s education plan:

We’ve spent years working on ways to restructure schools, but what matters most is the relationship between one student and one teacher. You ask a kid who has graduated from high school to list the teachers who mattered in his life, and he will reel off names. You ask a kid who dropped out, and he will not even understand the question. Relationships like that are beyond his experience.

Because the master teacher–i.e. the rabbi–in Jewish life is also the central authority, Brooks’ statement resonates loudly in Jewish tradition. Originally, it was the parent who was given the responsibility to teach his child, but in Talmudic times, this responsibility had been transferred to a new profession, the teacher. Teachers had assumed a parental responsibility and were afforded the respect that parents had only enjoyed. As stated in the Mishnah:

Your parents have brought you living into this world, but your teachers will usher you into the next. (Mishnah Bava Metziya 2:11)

Implicit in this understanding is that the teacher by definition assumes not only a parental responsibility, but a parental interest in the child.

I always tell teachers that they have to take this responsibility very seriously and yes they must love the children, but they need to get their love at home. Beyond proper tools, beautiful buildings and cutting edge technology, there is the one who knows and also cares.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: