Humiliated Son

I’m writing this in my own behalf, but I know I am expressing the feelings of many parents.

My son refused to go back to yeshiva today because his rebbe humiliated him in the class yesterday. I’m not claiming that my son is a tzaddik, and I only know the incident from my son’s perspective, which may not be right. But this is not the first time it has happened. Other parents have spoken to the principal about this teacher’s handling of the students, but nothing has changed.

My point is this. If a young man is a fantastic talmid chacham and knows all the laws of shechita by heart, would he be allowed to be a shochet without having been trained and supervised? Of course not! Why is the way a chicken is shechted more important than how a child is managed? Would anybody tolerate a shochet about whom there had been as many complaints about his ineptness as there are about this melamed? Would we allow an incompetent shochet to feed treifa to people because he needs the parnossa?

Not everyone who is a talmid chacham is a natural born teacher. Teachers must learn how to handle a class and how to manage an unruly child. An untrained person should not be permitted to enter a classroom.

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It is interesting that you gave the example of shochet. The Satmar Rebbe zt”l said that as horrible an aveira as eating an improperly shechted chicken is, there is nevertheless the possibility ofteshuva. But if a teacher crushes a child, that is an aveira for which there is no teshuva. You are absolutely right that training for teachers should be mandatory

You should meet with the teacher. You only know the child’s version, which may not be accurate. If you are not satisfied with the teacher’s explanation, you should meet with the principal. Yes, I know that some principals may support the teacher no matter what, but he should nevertheless hear the complaint. If you know the other parents that have complained, you should see the principal together. You are not interested in the teacher being dismissed, but rather that his conduct with the students should improve.

You should tell your child that you will be meeting with the teacher and the principal, and will try to get things straightened out.

We should also bear in mind the stress that teachers are under, often not being paid for long periods of time and dealing with classes where some of the children are unruly and undisciplined and the teacher has no way to get them to behave. Yet, nothing can justify humiliating a child in class.

It is important to mention that just as people are not born naturally talented teachers, neither are they born naturally talented parents. Just as an untrained person should not be allowed to enter the classroom, neither should untrained young men and women be allowed to enter the chuppaunless they had taken a course on how to be a husband, wife, or parent. Improper parenting can be every bit as damaging to as child as improper handling in a classroom.

There is great need for improvement in both areas.