Chinuch with Turbulent Times

As many teachers may know, we are currently living in a very challenging time when it comes to connecting with our students. There are many obstacles that come our way today as teachers that we never had to face before. 

In truth, we really cannot know how close Mashiach is. Yet we do know for certain that we are living in the times directly preceding the coming of Mashiach. Thus, we are witnesses to radical changes taking place at a very rapid pace, such as the great advances in technology, and, far more significant, the breakdown of values in secular society.

A U.S. congressional study pointed out some of the shocking differences in the preservation of values in America between fifty years ago and today: In the 1940’s, the leading disciplinary problems in the public schools were: talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls and littering. In the 1990’s, the leading disciplinary problems in the public schools were: substance abuse, suicide, robbery, assault and some other indecencies that are not appropriate to discuss any further. 

In view of the dramatic changes that have taken place over the last half-century, we must realize that extra effort and special techniques are necessary to educate children nowadays.

In the past, if these vital ingredients were lacking, it might not have made such a major difference in children’s lives. Nowadays, however, they can be crucial, for in today’s world situation true spiritual values are in peril.

A secular author wrote, “I am convinced that if we as a society work diligently in every other area of life and neglect the family, it would be analogous to straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.”

The Slonimer Rebbe writes in Nesivos HaChinuch that just as the verse tells us “Chanoch lana’ar al pi darko — Raise the child according to his own path,” meaning that each child must be dealt with in a way that is suitable to his (or her) particular needs (Proverbs 22:6) — so too must we take care to “chanoch lador al pi darko — deal with each generation in accordance with its particular circumstances and needs.”

From this we learn that each and every generation must be taught and treated in accordance with their own specific needs. When one is teaching younger students today, one should keep in mind the challenges that they face at their specific age. Teaching a middle school student in 2017 should be done very differently than teaching a high school student in the same year. Each generation and age group faces their own challenges and as teachers, we must be able to recognize those challenges and help each child face them head on. 

Reprinted with permission from ArScroll/Mesorah Publications

Rabbi Dov Brezak is a world renowned parenting and teaching expert.

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