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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

Where have I seen this before?


It was on frumteens or perhaps on a blog and maybe it was on another web- forum, I’m not sure.
But it was a cry for help, one that resonated within me.
I could not be of much help but something was strangely familiar, very unpleasantly so.

It was a girl writing about one of her classmates who was showing signs of dropping off the derech (religious way) and getting a lot of attention from the teachers and even a visit by one of the town’s Rabbis
The girl who writes explains that classmates, herself included, felt jealous of all the attention and importance that girl was accorded; so envious in fact that they speculated whether they shouldn’t start acting adversely and rebelling themselves, not because that’s what they wanted but to receive an equal amount of attention.

Apparently she was not reprimanded when failing to deliver homework and the like for fear of driving her further away.
In other words she was rewarded for her “undesired behavior”.

I’m not a marketing guru, but I distinctly remember form the years I did study marketing that this is a big no-no.
Undesired behavior must either be punished or be ignored but certainly not rewarded.
I learned another valuable lesson during those studies, marketing laws were established based on patterns of behavior by adults and babies.
Not necessarily consumer attitudes, but also general subconscious reactions to various stimuli and choices.
Correspondingly the established marketing laws apply to general human behavior as well.
With this in mind I venture to conclude that it’s questionable whether giving so much attention to ‘problem’ kids is really the way to handle that problem.

I learned another marketing principal as well. The law of “customer retention
“Invest twice as much in your current customers as you do to gain new ones”

Why is that intelligent 11 year olds who ask good questions are dismissed with a wave of the hand at best and are humiliated in front of the whole class by what is supposed to be a trained and patient Rebbi/Morah (teacher) by labeling them as heretic for asking, at worst?

I saw this word on a blog last week (which one was it? help me remember please) “inreach”.
Why is inreach so neglected?
It’s so obvious that many kids today want answers not dismissive reactions , they want to know their questions are valid even if a clear cut answer cannot always be provided.
How come I get asked in person and by email to donate to kiruv(outreach) organizations all the time but never to keep the kids safe before they get in trouble?
How come when I was a sick as a child not one of the many Rabbis in my school felt it would be a good idea to explain that G-D’s ways are not always understandable to us flawed humans, but that I must not feel it’s a punishment?

Comments:
Being preventive is so hard for people to be. We always take advantage of the givens in life and usually don't take notice till a problem arises. We appreciate breathing only after we end a cold. Appreciate the living often after they are dead. So of course, the same pattern follows with kids. We put effort into the ones we see as a problem versus the ones that appear to be well adjusted. Both probably need our attention.
 
Great post and one that really needs to be addressed!
Rabbi Tauber always talks about 'Kiruv Kerovim' and how it starts with the kids.

I know from my own disfunctional familial situation that my 'perfect kids' feel jealous of the challenging child and it's up to me to give equal time to all at the risk of losing one.
 
Prag, I agree, inreach is very important. Because when they don't get what they need, like answers to questions, it makes them think there are none, when there really are.

There's a program called Jlic, which gives ortho. college students, mentors to go to.
Younger students need that too though and can benefit greatly from the support a mentor gives.
 
prag--running out the door to pick up from preschool but had to tell you-the HTML "trick" is simply to type then to change the font to white so that when you highlight it you see it in grey! hee hee later, sus
 
Thank you,
your post was well addressed........
and I agree strongly about investing efforts in the wonderful potentials of the children who do well, etc........
A family member of ours is going through some tough - 'off the derech times' - in Israel.....chassidish.......lots of us are sick with worry.....and he def needs TLC.......
I cannot remember the exact saying -something I recently heard - but it was something like
'Give love and attention to a child - ESPECIALLY when he is not deserving of it'..........(this said by some big Swedish Educator.........)
So I suppose at the end of the day..........it depends on the individual circumstance....

But it is IMPERATIVE to keep in mind - NOT to forget about the 'Good' ones!
 
Theonlyway, so true, the 'good ones' need attention too so they stay on track.
 
I agree with you 100 percent. This concept of in-reach is clearly very important, not just for our young people, but for everyone.

Sometimes people exclude by seeming to be aloof, standoff-ish, when in fact, they may just be shy. I have come to this conclusion about people on more than one occasion, and been wrong myself.
 
charity starts at home. unfortunately, as you've written, people are more interested in reaching out. why? maybe they feel they are doing more (in the eyes of society) or getting more recognition that you don't get from paying attention to your own (kids take things for granted.) And it's surprising what you can discover and be able to do for people close to you if you just take the time to be there for friends, teach the young ones that are close to you etc.
The marketing law should be applied more often!
 
maybe this bloggers post is a bit relevant... it's about 'digging deeper' - http://charediwannabe.blogspot.com/2006/04/for-sake-of-post-dig-deeper-part-2.html
 
Why are so many topics, taught even by black hat balei tshuva yeshivot, considered to be taboo to discuss in the regular yeshivot. The answer, to me, is simple. Fear. It is fear that if we discuss these things (moral and intellectual confusion), even to explain why they are wrong, with someone who has yet to explore "the dark side", that we are introducing them to the dark side. Ironically, children, and adult, sense that fear and misinterpret it. They believe that there actually is good reason to fear. The feel that their teachers do not have an answer to "the dark side", and that is why they are afraid. They do not recognize it as irrational, because the teachers dont see it as irrational.
 
How do you think the good kids get to be the good kids to begin with?
 
OK, so I'm new to your blog (I dont recognize any of the people posting here! new territory!).

I just wanted to say that you make excellent points. This issue is grossly neglected.

True to your blog title, care to expound a bit on the specifics of making this a reality?
 
Swiftthinker- Thanks for your input,
We put effort into the ones we see as a problem versus the ones that appear to be well adjusted
it’s the classical example of the kid who always get straight A’s and barely gets a pat on the back, while his always failing brother gets a beautiful gift when he scores a C+.


Kasamba-I was searching for that word “Kiruv Kerovim” adn couldn’t remember it yesterday , thanks!
I really think you should write a book about Chinuch, I think experience has qualified you for it.

Lvns-How was your break?
This is very interesting info, do they have a website?

Emah s-It’s so simple yet so ingenious, thanks!

Theonlywayiknow –Thanks for posting, and I’m sorry your family is going through a rough phase now; do you think this could’ve been prevented? Or did it just happen?
I cannot disagree with the Swedish educator and I agree every case should be reviewed by professionals before taking concrete action, nevertheless I’m still of the opinion that children who misbehave should be punished(in a constructive non physical way)!

Anon-My point exactly.

Barbara-I love it so when people agree with me: )
You learned from experience, it’s the bets teacher, often reticence is indeed caused by shyness and not disinterest.


Sarah –Thanks For the link.
The concept I had in mind when writing was ‘charity begins at home”, just as you wrote.

As I said in a previous post even when busy with chessed, there’s an egotistical motive at work, it sure sounds better “I’m helping 5 strange kids to deal with some of their issues” than I’m helping my brother out”.
I extrapolated the marketing law to a human relations law, so this is the one that should be used; marketing laws are mostly for business purposes.

Jewish thinker-I think you’re right, fear is the main factor, but the fear could be channeled the other way around, fear that kids will sense the fear of educators and take the wrong conclusions from that fear.

Mamsida-I’m not sure what you mean, but it’s a combination of many factors.

Almostholy-Thanks for visiting, may I ask where you found a link to The Pragmatician?
I usually draw a post to a close, tying up all the comments and trying to implement some pragmatic thinking. a week or two after it was originally posted, so please visit this blog again in 10 days.
It’s true that these issues are grossly neglected, unfortunately writing about them on this blog will have little or no effect, it’s the big Jewish forums that need to address them.
 
This is a very beautiful post. I really like your thoughts and it's interesting how you apply your knowledge of marketing to real life.
 
On a very practical and mundane level, how many of us remember to give each of our(good) children some positive subjective praise EVERY SINGLE DAY?
 
Evangelia-thanks for the compliment.
I loved marketing and I regret not practicing it, but here and there I still enjoy talking about it.

Jemima3- Very few if any, is the answer I think.
Unfortunately unconstructive criticism is easier to remember, don’t you agree?
 
Great point.,...
I think we need a whole new approach to educating our kids. We have to focus more on the fundamentals of judaism..the whys instead of the hows...
 
Haha Prag
If fear that if we fear that, fear is the main factor, and the fear could be channeled the other way around, fear that kids will sense the fear of educators and take the wrong conclusions from that fear.

Isnt that frightening?
Seriously though - why would the educators have that fear in the first place, besides kids see the fear in the educators anyway.
 
Hi Prag!
2 things to say to you this fine morning!

1- on Jew/Think's blog, my comment on your ideas, was related to JT's take on them - not my opinion of them!
He did not take them up -
but, I thought they were creative and well represented!! (therefore was upset to see you downgrade your comment by saying 'i know they weren't the best..)

2- your profile - re music - says you like French music. Recently I've come across an Italian group called Il Divo - 4 tenors in their 20s with the most stunning voices, music and songs. Although I do not understand a word - I listen to the music over and over. They vary between singing in Italian, Spanish, French and English. One song has Celine Dion on it as well.
Anyway, I was wondering if you can suggest some of the French music you enjoy.

I'm not sure of the blogging rules regarding asking these questions.
Does it disturb the flow of the blog? Should I be emailing this personal question?
For now it's out there - LOL - but let me know if the 'etiquette' is wrong.
Take Care
 
I can honestly say that since my children were born, i have given them some kind of praise every single day!(they are 10 and 13)
I also work with children in a classroom setting on occassion and i very often tell them to always remember that each one of them is special in his/her own way and that they can be ANYTHING they want when they grow up and not to listen to anyone that tells them different. I do this because this is something i really would have liked to hear when i was a child.
 
David-I would say not instead but as well.
The hows remain important.

Jewish thinker- this is getting confusing: )
But the kids never get a chance to ‘see’ the fear because the teachers they get to see are not the ones choosing what to teach.
‘The educators’ we speak of work behind the scenes. It’s they who want to avoid certain questions coming up in lessons.

Every B.C date was erased from my secular history book when I was in school, the poor teacher didn’t know what to do with that.
But it was never explained to us why and how these dates were ‘unacceptable’.
Who fears whom and who fears what? That’s the question…

The only way I know-Well since it was his questions and my suggestion didn’t appeal to him, so for him they were not the best, for someone else they might be.
I still believe they are good Chinuch ideas but perhaps not in Jew Think’s specific situation.

I know Il divo and love their style, using strong powerful voices on pop music, simply a brilliant concept.
I don’t mind questions on the comments blog, but about some tips for French music and perhaps a sample if you’d like I prefer using email.
Pragmatician@gmail.com
Evangelia-this is wonderful, all the child psychologists recommend positive encouragement yet so many parents neglect that.
 
The good kids are the ones whose parents have invested alot of work into their behavior even before they get to school.

So these kids don't act out or misbehave, so teachers relax and say, okay this one we don't have to worry about.

But I agree that the method of focusing exclusively on the kids who are 'problems' doesn't work.

In some ways, the best person to answer the questions these kids have, or to answer their problems are their own knowledgable peers. Because after all, rabbis have to say that.
 
So true. Yet isn't it always the case in all areas of life that we only get shaken into action when something drastic happens? We are all to blame for it in one area or another. Yet for the future of our children no excuse is sufficiant.

How to make the trasfer from blog to RL though??....
 
Mamsida- I believe it's Rabbi Twersky who said that the parents influence on how a child will turn out is 50%, the best a parent can do about the other 50% is pray.
If kids answer other kids' questions imagination could spiral out of control.
Didn't you hear the wildest stories on how intimate relationships occur?

Exsem-Unfortunately it is, about the transfer I think it's what I said last time, recognized organizations need to lecture to these issues not some lone blogs.
 
btw - wanted to say (belatedly) thanks for the warm welcome to your post....(got so carried away continuing to read.....I forgot to mention, that your 'thanks' to my first post on your blog made me feel welcome!)

Also - about your question if the child who is having 'off the derech' problems could have been helped before....
The answer is a bit lengthy -

his problems boil down to the problems in his parents' marriage.

Both parents are very bright, and generally well adjusted, but the mother suffers from a personality disorder which shows itself ocassionally -and creates havoc in the marital relationship, and breaks normal routine -
sometimes for a few weeks at a time.

The father - trying to deal with his pain - had a difficult time in relating to his children, chose to escape elsewhere, while mom escaped to the bedroom for days..,

The children have an above average intelligence, and the fam is financially secure and generally well run....BUT the difficulties have left their mark
on a few of the children

BH - things are being taken care of
and are working out with G-d's help./

Thanks for asking
 
Because they don't know the answer.
 
You've brought out great points.

I think, unfortunately, we're prone to being reactive and not proactive, especially when things fall out of the norm.

Although - I think that our communities in general are addressing these matters, unfortunalty there are cases that do and will slip through the cracks. It's not always that easy to see the problems and diagnose them before it's too late.

But at the same time we really do have to give credit to the Pirchei's, Bnos, NCSY, Bnei Akivas to name a few, for the work that they do with our children that are fine and fall into the norm.

The Yeshivos today are very much focused on dealing with these issues the moment they see it - and for the most part make strong efforts to educate their staff in dealing with the norm and with any child that does show signs of problems. There are many things they take into account when a child acts up - though again, yes - there are those that do slip through the cracks.

I'm I being to naive?
 
You have a point.

When the 2 bp girls ran off to AZ, I was a bit envious. Not of the attention they received, but the fact that they got their issues taken care of afterwards. People recognizing their cry for help, and helping them. Good girls are left with their bitterness and suppression.

How many kids feel this way? How many kids that went off the derech really love yiddishkeit but don't know the difference bw halacha and chumra. All the restrictions/suppressions are tied into one.

Off my soapbox.
 
I think there is a need for change in the approach when teaching Jewish subjects. I think that in my High school days - things were accepted more easily. The 'ruach' in the world was different.

I feel that now - EVERY child .......and person....should be taught with the approach of teaching Baalie Teshuva. Encouraging questions - even raising some controversial questions in class - to bring out answers that will satisfy for years to come.

I believe that the winds of change have started to blow in this direction. Kiruv Kerovim, as Kasamba put it.

In my opinion - that is the way forward
 
Hi- Great post--i kept seeing you on other blogs so I decided to check it out. And I'm glad I did,cause as a teacher -a teacher of Jewishness especially- I really need to be extra careful that my students are properly related to -that the misbehaving girls don't get all the attention, that the questions are adressed. Luckily, I got my teacher training in an enlightened school where questions of all kinds were not merely encouraged, but required to fully understand our world and our roles in it. Looking forward to the next post!
 
Its a very sad situation. And it upsets me on many levels. Is there really a concept of 'inreach'? Why does it seem so logical yet non existant? MAsmida, that is why I made that facetious comment about better to be sheep on your blog....

I agree with frum thinker, it is fear. And it has to stop - for the sake of the future generations.
 
Theonlywaiknow-You’re very welcome, I always appreciate someone taking the time to read and comment.
I’m glad that things seem to work out well.
I guess parents never know how much kids look tot hem for stability, once that is shaken, scars are deep.

I agree that teaching material should be updated a little, especially boys learning Gemarah come across some’ controversial’ stuff that may frustrate an intelligent kid, yet is never ever brought up in class.
Same goes for girls who learn Navi and want a deeper understanding.


Emanuel- that’s also true. But they could learn it.

Chakiraman-That’s the problem, one kids is spotted with a cigarette on Shabbes and he gets to learn with the Rosh Yeshiva an hour a day, while the ‘good kid’ who’s been dying to learn with the Rosh yeshiva does not get a chance,
I was talking about kid that show no sign whatsoever, but that have questions nevertheless, these kids have an equal right to be noticed and taken care of.
I was not talking about problem kids, for sure they are taken care of already.

Anon-Well said, a real life example of what I was writing about, these girls had the right to ask their questions and were answered by professionals, while you and me don’t even dare ask them.
Essentially the good kids are punished for being too good? How crazy is that?

I don’t how many but I’ve heard stories where kids were turned off Yiddishkeit specifically because of chumras
they couldn’t live with.


Okee-hi, thanks for posting.
the misbehaving girls don't get all the attention
Do you have a specific method for this, or do you have to remind yourself of it each time?
Do your students ask a lot of difficult questions?

Frumgirl-As fellow Frummi do you think that there should be a distinction for ‘the new approach’ in MO schools and Chassidic schools?
 
Although I am orthodox, I work in the Jewish Federation system as a Program Director and Fundraiser. You should know that the emphasis on outreach far outreaches the inreach in the secular community as well. Even if the purpose is raising money and building community rather than promoting religious observance.

The reason for this is that those on the inside firmly believe that the system set up is structured and sound and does not require personal hand holding for retention. They think that retention will naturally happen because they enjoy their participation on the inside.

This is unfortunately a big mistake. Customer retention (especially from a marketing perspective) requires the person to "sample" or question the internal system constantly.

For example, people assume that if someone is on a committee, THEY ARE INVOLVED. This is a big mistake because the same committee that can aid in increasing a person's involvement can also cause a person to take two steps back if the committee experience is viewed as a waste of time or frustrating.

In Orthodoxy, we tend to think our system is great and there is no reason to "fix" the system. IF people do not have positive experiences in Orthodoxy then they tend to jump ship (or blog about their schizo perspectives).

This is why "inreach" is so important. If people are leaving Yiddishkeit we need to get over ourselves and realize that the current Orthodox experience is flawed somewhere. Is it cultural? Is it the current views on halacha, levels of observance, or are we exclusive in nature?
 
Good post.
 
wonderful post, jonah
liked the 'schizo perspectives' description!
 
Jonah-
Hi and thanks for stopping by.
If I may ask what is the Jewish Federation system? And why “Although I am orthodox”, are most workers in this organizations non religious?
I like you theory and your use of the marketing principle I mentioned.
Is it cultural? Is it the current views on halacha, levels of observance, or are we exclusive in nature?
I think we definitely are, do FFB’s have non religious Jews in their circle of friends usually?
Besides for business and studies do we ever interact with the larger world?
And as mentioned previously by commentoras the increasing number of chumros that don’t always make so much sense is too much for some.
 
Thanks for the warm welcome ;-)

I found your post intriguiing because my educational background is in marketing and organizational communications.

The Jewish Federation system is a North American institution that serves as a community's central fundraising and allocations vehicle. In other words, Federation's have a group of partnered direct service agency's who they fundraise for and allocate for. I would suggest you follow this link for a good description of the system: http://ujc.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=1653&page=2

The Federation world is predominately Conservative and Reform but interestingly, Federation involvement is almost a religion itself in that most secular JEws view their participation in it as "being connected" Jewishly.

As a fundraiser, we constantly do outreach (and we even use the same term) and only in the last 5 years or so realized that the donor base is getting older and dying and the next generation is either unaffiliated or their philantrhopic priorities have changed. We realized the problem is just as much internal as it is external and we have started to approach the whole evaluation method differently, with a more critical eye on our opportunities for continuous engagement.

In fact, we developed a model called CEF (Connect, Engage, Fulfill). "Connect" is what we call outreach, "engage" means to give meaningful opportunities for involvement and fulfill is a evaluation process to make sure the person is satisfied. If "Fulfillment" no longer exists over time, then you need to re-engage" them into something meaningful again. It's an ever-ongoing process. A person may age-out of their existing engagement, they may become more or less observant etc. but the need to fulfill must always be there.

So your NO-risk kid needs "CEF" just as much as the AT-RISK kid...
 
Pragmatician,
You inspired me. Check out my post on jewishpros.blogspot.com

Thanks!

Jonah
 
Prag, to answer your questions...the misbehaving girls get disciplined, as need be (that sounds much scarier than it actually is) but I constantly try to draw all of my students into the lesson, and into the discussion. I have to constantly remind myself to do it, and it is one of the major challenges of teaching, but I do not want passive listeners in my class. I want thinking individuals.

The girls ask all kinds of questions, and many difficult ones. The catch is that most of the time, they are only asking because they know that certain push-button questions will dramatically distract the teacher and draw her off course. Often they don't really want/need/care to hear the answer. But I'm always afraid I'll miss a real, true question in the lake of decoys.
 
I know a frum girl who was going away to college with no 'first year in Seminary'. She had a problem: All the Jewish campus groups in that particular college were devoting tons of energy to Jews who had no previous connection to Orthodoxy, while leaving the already-frum ones to fend for themselves. I told her, only half-tongue-in-cheek, that perhaps she should pretend to be non-Observant when she walks into the Chabad/Hillel/whatever, and then have a better chance of being noticed.
 
Your picture looks like a piece of indoor- outdoor carpet.

The young girl should be disciplined just like other pupils. She should also get some special attention away from the other children. She is probably just screaming out for help. She may also be the kind of person that needs attention to survive. She has low self esteem.
 
Jonah-It seems like a great organization and it’s great to meet a fellow marketing educated frum man.
It’s a profession that is still shirked from by many frum people although its potential is huge.
Is your involvement a hobby or is it your main job?
I read your two posts on the subject, thanks for following up, I’m afraid blogging about it isn’t going to be very effective but it’s good to know other people share my opinions, but who knows one day someone with influence will address these issues.

Okee-you’re in a challenging profession, I remember a teacher that was so easily distracted and we did take advantage of that.
Perhaps you could propose to address difficult issues towards the end of the lesson, that way if it’s just a ruse you won’t have wasted too much precious time.

Yehupitz-It’s this kind of thinking that is scary, what if she finds out she likes what she pretends to be, it’s unfair that a girl would have to play a role to be noticed.
Thanks for visiting and sharing this eye opening story.

Lucy- Ha ha I guess that picture does: )
It’s actually a close up of a Matzah.

I like what you suggest, to punish but to take notice as well.
 
Prag,
It is my main job (although I do teach in the local reform after-school religious school). I fell into Jewish Federation work five years ago during an internship at the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, when I worked as a marketing intern. Five years later I am now a Program Director and have raised close to $4 million total.

I would ba heppy to chat more with you...my AIM is active most of the work day and you can IM me at yhalpr. Hope to hear from you.

Jonah
 
Frumgirl-As fellow Frummi do you think that there should be a distinction for ‘the new approach’ in MO schools and Chassidic schools?

Hmmm very intersting question you are asking me. I dont believe there should be a distinction, but I do believe it should be noticed and attention should be given to it. Turning a blind eye and then taking no responsibility for the child - that cant be the way.
 
Jonah-wow that’s a dazzling amount, It appears you’re doing you job very well
I’d love to chat but I don’t have an account on either program, till now I just used google talk, but one of these I need a IM anyway so I’ll add you to my list once this happens

FFS-
Thanks for answering
A kusheren Pessach
 
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