Much has been said, and much continues to be said, and much more needs to be said, about improving the economics of our yeshiva day schools. But what about improving the education, particularly in limudei kodesh [Judaic studies] - what would you do?
Of course, I always have ideas - Sunday School in limudei kodesh for girls, Judaic enrichment programs - but this is going to be an open thread: What would you suggest for our schools?
In order to provide something related to the conversation, though, here's a piece of an article slated to appear in this week's Toronto Torah, a translation of a segment of Rav Yair Bachrach's Chavos Yair Responsum 124. Rabbi Bachrach pessimistically answers a man who wants to know how to guide the education of his 13 year old son [translaton by Rabbi Ezra Goldschmiedt, one of our avreichim]:
Since you've made known to me that [your son] spoke beautifully at his Bar Mitzvah, I assume he's already learned matters of aggada such as Midrash Rabbah and Ein Yaakov that, in truth, are good for young men, like appetizers before the main course. They will also be glorious and beautiful in the ears of those who hear [from him] a particular peshat or derash, or when he hears a talk from a great [scholar] he will loudly interject and make known his knowledge and grasp [of the subject], by which he [himself] will become known as a distinguished scholar. After all that, perhaps he will find a wife and find goodness, wealth and riches.
However, this would be neither the proper path nor the proper city, nor is it the definition of a true scholar who has acquired wisdom, and grown to the point that we would hope he would be able to render good and just rulings in Israel, who is filled with the meat and wine of the [more] substantial matters of Torah.
Concerning the [management of the] stages [of your son's learning], this is a difficult matter for an individual – even one who is wealthy and distinguished – to manage for his son. [And this would be the case as well] even if one were to find a distinguished scholar who would teach for the sake of heaven, without deception and for whom personal gain and reward is not all they have in mind. This already is uncommon, and it may not even exist, but even if you were to look and find [such a person, you would have another difficulty].
All who have children who go to school adopt a manner of learning that is not proper – so what could one local [teacher] do, to go against his colleagues and change [this system] and adopt a proper approach against his peers? And even if one's father would hire a teacher for him [alone], is not the greatest need in study the bond with friends, as it is written (Taanit 7a) “[I have learned] more from my friends than my teachers”? There is no solution for this, unless one were to gather together five or six heads of household and hire a teacher for their sons, on condition that none could be added. They would provide [for the teacher] as befits him, as though he had double the students. Then, Divine counsel will be effective through this system of learning.