September 12th, 2019 – The Value of Education – Ki Tetzey
ucation, and what is commonly known as “higher education”, have not kept up with the world in which we live. Although education costs continue to rise, many people continue to question the educational value of university professors who spend more time on their own research than on teaching. Undergraduate college students seem less prepared to enter the work force than before. Too many college graduates upon entering the work force must be retrained. Much of what they study in college is either irrelevant for the modern world or simply outdated. On the other hand, a college education is a necessary requirement for entrance into the middle class. Has the emphasis on short answer exams lead to students being incapable of expressing themselves in clear and precise English? Has rote memorization of facts replaced critical thinking? To add to this confusion, many universities in numerous so called “enlightened nations” practice a form of Inquisitional censuring forcing students and faculty members alike to accept a particular political position or use what is called “politically correct” language out of fear of being fired or suffering a grade loss. Too many university campus have become home to group-think rather than to critical thinking.
Throughout the millennia, rabbis have also struggled with these same challenges. Some rabbis have argued that law to be law must “walk with the nation through history.” Others disagreed and argued that there has to be a delicate balance between the “was” and the “is”. These authorities stated that the Biblical text is eternal and that it is the reader’s responsibility to understand the text in light of his/her current reality. Are we reading into a text, finding in it what we want, and thus creating teleological dilemmas?
From this perspective, Judaism has much to teach modern educators. It insists that in each generation we must struggle with the original Hebrew text, go beyond the obvious, and extract from ancient wisdom ideas that are eternally relevant. From a Jewish perspective the purpose of education is not merely to make us know but also to make us think and challenge. Perhaps as we bring this year to its conclusion and begin the New Year of 5780, it is time to challenge some of our current educational assumptions and to teach students how to see an issue from multiple sides.
We now begin a new decade; can we reign in the fear of learning? Can we challenge so much of the Orwellian politically correct “non-thought” that has turned our youth into intellectual zombies rather than educated men and women. Can we transform our current education system from political correctness to critical thinking? Is that not a part of teshuvah, of examining our past, of seeing all sides, and only then coming to informed decisions. What do you think?
Youtubes for the week
Getting ready for the New Year: 5780
Greetings from a military base:
New York Rosh Ha’Shanah song
Dip Your Apple sung in Hebrew