|Basic English words for "quiz-game" I made up for my high school students last year.|
This is now the season when Israeli children return to school. For some it's the same old school but a different class/grade, and for others it's a new school completely. Israeli parents have a lot of choices in education styles and curriculum when choosing schools for their children. In most cities, towns and regions there are regular "state" or public schools, which aren't religious, state-religious and atzma'i-"independent," which are chareidi. In the religious sector, for boys there's also the Talmud Torah, which is charda"l, a "zionist chareidi" style of education.
In recent years men who left the chareidi way of life have protested very vehemently about how the curriculum in the chareidi schools left them at a terrible disadvantage in trying to learn a profession, study in a university and/or get a decent job. The curriculum in the chareidi boys schools only prepares them for yeshiva life. It's almost totally Talmud with very basic math. And in some schools the classes are taught in Yiddish, so that their Hebrew is sub-par. A neighbor of mine who left the chareidi world says that they aren't even taught to write basic compositions, just to memorize and recite. The norm in recent years in the chareidi world is for the husband to "learn" in a yeshiva full-time as a job, get a small stipend, and be supported by his wife. That's why in the girls schools, there is a general bagrut, matriculation curriculum, in which the girls learn math, English and other subjects on a level which allows them to study for a profession and get a good job/salary.
The newscasts about this problem, which I saw, left out the fact that it's not just former chareidim who suffer from badly conceived curricula. When I taught English in yeshiva high schools I discovered that many of my students in the lowest/remedial groups weren't there because of a lack of innate ability. They hadn't failed the English entrance exam, because they had a serious learning problem. They failed because their parents had sent them to an elementary school that didn't teach English at all or just made it into a joke in order to claim they taught it. They certainly didn't teach it on the level that a state school, religious or not, demands. And many of the same students, otherwise good students and highly intelligent, had serious problems in math for the same reason. The parents of these children aren't chareidi. They just thought that the religious level would be higher in the "talmud Torah." But those same parents wanted their children to learn professions and even go to university as adults, so for high school, they looked for schools with bagrut, matriculation curricula.
Of course, no good yeshiva high school will take boys missing English and Math, and whatever school would accept them would have to put them in remedial groups. In most cases, the students never really catch up.
So, please do your children a favor. Use "backwards planning" when choosing an elementary school. First think of your child as an adult who will have to work and earn a living. Then think of the type of post-high school study and training needed for that, then the type of high school and then the best sort of elementary school to prepare him/her for that sort of education. And, yes, there are many good state-religious-torani elementary schools which do their best to prepare students for both a Torah observant life and a top university education.