Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Sivan 5761 - May 23, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Two Mothers and Two Daughters
by Menucha Beckerman

They were sitting outside her classroom, waiting for their turn to speak to the teacher. After the initial desultory remarks, as the time passed, the exchange of views became quite animated.

Mrs. A. I really can't understand them. Just look at the peeling paint on the walls. Couldn't they have gotten someone to paint the place? After all, our girls spend more than half their day here. Why should they have to be in an environment which looks so neglected? How much can it cost to give it a new coat of paint? It doesn't have to be anything special, just a cover- up, though a professional decorator wouldn't hurt to give the school a new, dignified look.

Mrs. B. Have you noticed how beautifully the walls are decorated? You can see how much effort has gone into it. Look how they have managed to center it all around one theme and yet, they've put a different slant on each project. It is really lovely to see that every grade has participated, as is evident by the different levels of work. And how refreshing it is to note that each girl has taken part, not only the talented artists. This way, every girl feels she has contributed to the decoration of the school.

Mrs. A. You know, it isn't all that easy to climb all those stairs to the third floor. Just imagine how exhausted our daughters must be, having to go down and then up again at recess. I'm sure they would prefer to stay in the classroom. Who has the energy to do all those stairs in one ten minute break? But it isn't good for them to be cooped up here all the time, either.

I've been having a look around, and I don't know why they haven't installed lifts. There is room for five of them. Believe me, the staff would also welcome the opportunity not to have to use the stairs during stampede hour. Of course, we have to economize, but there are plenty of people who don't know what to do with all their money and spend it on all sorts of frivolities and not on necessities.

Mrs. B. Have you seen the beautiful view from up here? It's absolutely fantastic. Even the bars over the windows are part of the scenery. Although they are really strong and safe, they are also decorative and they don't give you that prison feeling and also the color they chose is delightful. Don't you agree? And the air is so refreshing.

Mrs. A. Why is she keeping us waiting for so long? It shows no consideration for others. What is she doing in there all the time? If she has to settle something in particular, she shouldn't be doing it at our expense. We are all busy mothers with homes to run. Anyway, the most annoying thing about these meetings is that they don't even discuss the child. They talk about everything else under the sun like mutual acquaintances, the home or the neighborhood.

Mrs. B. Isn't it thoughtful of the secretary to provide us with drinks? She knew that we might have to wait a while, so she made sure we wouldn't get dehydrated. And this particular teacher is something special. She is so caring, even about small details. She gets involved in the girls' talk of events at home, and knows everyone's background. She observes each girl's development with motherly devotion. I feel I can always talk to her, and she really listens. She invests far more hours in her work than she gets paid for, that's for sure. A really dedicated teacher and not a career woman.

Mrs. A. I don't know what the world is coming to. Have you seen the assignments the girls get? They give them a topic, and the girls have to find out all about it by themselves. That's all I need, that my daughter should start research work. We never have the right books or the latest edition, and she has to run around half the neighborhood to borrow them. Then, of course, she has to read up the material, summarize it and type it out. They've really gone overboard these days. What's wrong with the regular ten review questions about what they learned at school, which they just have to answer? Who needs all this? What do they get out of it?

Mrs. B. My daughter has really blossomed. She is discovering worlds which she didn't know existed and this has widened her horizons considerably. I feel the school has had a great influence on her and her general development. She thinks deeply and I thoroughly enjoy talking to her and discussing things with her. She has become mature and independent and has learned to study and do research on her own, analyzing, comparing, settling down to do her homework without any pushing from me. In fact, she enjoys the effort she puts into the work which she does on her own initiative.

Mrs. A. What do you think about the latest indignity? Our daughters are expected to be responsible for the cleanliness of the school. They only take in a professional firm once a week to give the school a more thorough cleaning. But every day there is a rota, and the girls have to sweep and wash the classroom themselves! I wonder what the Ministry of Education would have to say about all this. I'm sure there must be a law against it. After all, our girls aren't domestics, and should not be given menial tasks. I only wonder if these fastidious workers would also do such servile work or do they leave that to our daughters?

Mrs. B. I am always amazed at the way the directors of the school think up these original ideas which no one else would envision. For two months they had a drive for cleanliness in the school, but to no avail. Now that they are obliged to clean up after themselves, the level of dirt has gone down amazingly. Every girl thinks twice before she throws something on the floor, as she knows full well that the girl on duty will have something to say. In every classroom each girl knows that if she litters the place, it will boomerang on her, as her turn to clean up will come. Thus, they act accordingly.

The nicest part about all this is the money which they save on cleaners. Each class is allowed to vote on what they should do with it. One class decided to acquire some new books. Another class asked for extra excursion days free of charge. A third class bought some new instrument for the laboratory and a fourth class decided to redecorate their class room with new curtains etc. The benefits are twofold. They learn how to save, and they learn how to clean. Besides being taught about saving money, they learn to be house- proud and not to throw all their rubbish around with abandon. I am always amazed at the creative ideas in this school.

Mrs. A. was summoned into the classroom. She went in, ready to hear what the home room teacher had to say. The teacher glanced at her notes, cleared her throat, and began:

"Your daughter is a clever girl. She grasps things easily and is doing well scholastically. But there is a problem which seems to crop up again in every subject. All the teachers complain that she disrupts their lessons. She is always protesting about something and finds it hard to get on with the others. Whoever we put next to her isn't quite right for her. About one, her objection is that she takes up more than her share of the desk. Another, according to her, scratches her head. Still another chats to her and passes notes and a fourth neighbor borrows too much of her writing equipment.

"She is perpetually grumbling about her surroundings. She doesn't only criticize her peers, but even the teachers and the school administration do not go unscathed from her tongue. She complains about the amount of work, about the exams, not to mention the marks she gets. She hotly disputes every single mark which is less than 100%, which gives rise to chutzpa. Actually, it's a great pity, because she has many good traits and a very good head. I watch her, and notice that when a girl is in trouble, she is always there to help. Or when there is some problem, she is ready to volunteer. She is basically a kind-hearted girl. But her perpetual complaining is her undoing and it bothers girls who would like to be her friends."

Mrs. A. went home with her mind in a turmoil. How was it possible for there to be so many complaints about her talented, wonderful daughter?

Then it was Mrs. B.'s turn for an interview with the teacher. Before she could even open her mouth, the mother smiled and said, "Please allow ME to give you a report on your work, first. I have no words to thank you for your dedication. My daughter is so happy; every school day is like a yom tov for her. I realize that this is a result of all the effort you put into your work, for the benefit of each child and I just wanted to thank you for that."

When she had finished speaking, the teacher began her report, "What can I tell you? Your daughter is a ray of sunshine, a pure pleasure to teach. All the staff agree that when she is in a class, they enjoy being there. Besides being a gifted girl, she radiates such a positive attitude amongst the other girls. I'll let you into a secret: in the past month I have received five notes from different parents, asking if their daughter could be placed next to yours. She is not bossy or snobbish, despite her superiority. She is just a very popular girl who makes everyone around her feel good. May you continue to have a great deal of nachas from her!"

Mrs. B. went home, thanking Hashem for His goodness to her.

The apple does not fall far from the tree.


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