Out of Town

We moved 1000 miles away from our friends and family and just had a new baby....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Teaching Good Middos

Last night, our school held the kick-off for the new middos program they are running, called Project D.E.R.E.C.H. The goal is to get the entire school, from pre-K to 8th, involved...including the parents. Every week a note will come home about the mitzvah of the week. This week is tzelem elokim. In the future there will be lessons on kavod av v'em, respecting teachers, etc. The kids learn about specific mitzvos associated with the commandment/midda and parents need to "catch" their kids doing the mitzvah.

The best part about this, is that it will involve not only kodesh teachers, but the chol teachers as well. As many of the chol teachers are not religious and some not jewish, this is a great development. In the past, the kids at this school, as will many yeshivish schools, acted more than a little chutzpa to their non-religious or non-jewish teachers. This program is designed to combat that, and to teach the kids that they can learn good middos from non-jews and non-frum jews just like they can from their morahs and rebbes.

The speech last night was by R' Zvi Kaminetsky and was excellent, although it went a little late. The main point of his speech was that parents are teachers, and are, in fact, the most important teachers. In order to be able to correct a child, rebuke a child, punish a child, you first need to have a strong loving relationship. The child needs to know that you will always love him, and there is nothing they can do to make you stop loving them. But, that some behaviors are not appropriate. He said that the most powerful words can be "Kleins don't do that" or "we don't do that in the Schwartz family." Teach the kids pride in their family.

I really am hopeful for this program. The Rabbi said we should not refer to it as a project, b/c projects can easily be given up. We should think of this as a career change. Every parent in the room will become a teacher to his or her children.

One last point, I was so happy to see a great turn out. There are probably about 80 families in our school, and I would say 75% of them were represented by at least one parent. It gives me a lot of hope that we will see some better middos from our kids.


Blogger mother in israel said...

In order to be able to correct a child, rebuke a child, punish a child, you first need to have a strong loving relationship.

I would go farther; you would rarely need to go so far as to punish a child if you have that kind of relationship.

Sounds very interesting! Let us know how it works out.

October 23, 2006 2:59 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Please keep us updated on the program. While I have my doubts about some of these middot programs, this one sounds like it has a lot of potential because it involves the entire community, including the general studies teachers and the parents.

Parents are so underemphasized these days it seems. And, having taught general studies, I could write a whole megillah on that subject. But, in my experience I felt the janitor received a greater level of kavod and that made the job miserable.

So, please, keep us updated (weekly installments?).

It is sad that our generation doesn't know who to teach these things and needs a "career change." It seems like teaching mentchlekeit came so much more naturally to our parents.

October 23, 2006 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

One of the schools my kids were in adopted a Middos curriculum at some point. Honestly, I didn't like it. It was very artificial, I thought. For example, to get students to speak more respectfully to parents or teachers, the book directed them to say "Is it possible that Morah forgot . . .?" instead of saying "Morah, you forgot . . .: This leads to ludicrously phrased demands like, "It is possible to get pizza tonight instead of eating leftovers?"
Middos are not a subject or even a particular way of speaking that one can isolate, but a way of life.

Also when the school that pretends to teach good middos engages in misrepresntation, double dealing, and sheer stubborness just to prove they're the ones in charge, then you have a real mixed-messages problem. That is not to say your school is.

October 25, 2006 8:07 AM  
Blogger Warren Burstein said...

Racism is itself a bad middah.

October 26, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Outoftown said...

Warren, I hope you didn't take the "Schwartzes don't do that" as a racial thing. I was refering to the family name, Schwartz, like "Kleins don't do that" or "Markowitz's don't do that". I apologize if that was unclear.

October 26, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Warren Burstein said...

I apologize for misconstruing your meaning. If I could make a suggestion, editing the entry to say "The Schwartz family" could prevent someone else from making the same mistake as I did.

October 27, 2006 1:08 AM  
Blogger Outoftown said...

It is done. Please come back again...

October 27, 2006 7:37 AM  
Anonymous kollelmama said...

I find this quite amusing. I grew up in Cleveland, and went to the same school you are describing, and in third grade we did project DERECH. Let me tell you, I still remember it clearly today.

Ariella is correct- we were phrasing things saying "is it possible..." and guess what? We all did it, and it changed the essence of what we were saying. We sounded like mentschlichkeit, and for the rest of my life, until I got married and moved away, I held the door open for my mom. It is a well thought out program,even if it does seem a bit ridiculous.

November 06, 2006 10:16 PM  

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