Produced by Gary Drevitch
DOES THIS MEAN WE HAVE TO PULL SMALL FELLOW OFF HIS YOUTH SOCCER LEAGUE TEAM BECAUSE IT'S SPONSORED BY SCORES?
BUT IF PEOPLE PUT OFF THEIR BAR MITZVAHS UNTIL THEY WERE ADULTS, HOW WOULD THEY FILL THEIR COLLEGE FUNDS? (OH, SORRY. YOU HAD A SPIRITUAL POINT.)
Emily Bazelon at Slate has a radical proposal to "save" the bar mitzvah: Stop making kids do it at 13, because boys and girls today just don't feel it enough for her satisfaction. Spiritually, she believes, no commitment made by a 13-year-old (Joan of Arc excepted, we guess) can possibly have any meaning:
At 13, most kids don't choose to become b'nai mitzvah—they have the event foisted on them by their parents. At best, practicing their Torah reading is something they do to keep the nagging at bay; at worst, it's homework they resent and blow off. For many, the process can feel more infantilizing than inspiring—less like a first act of growing up than another reminder of her parents' shaping of her identity ...
Actually, 13 strikes us as the perfect age for a bar mitzvah. As a practical matter, a 13-year-old can still fit the lessons into his schedule without completely disrupting his extracurricular life. And yes, 13-year-olds may resist or rebel, but they're young enough that we parents can still make them to do it without really fostering a well of resentment that will disincline them from taking care of us in our old age.
And frankly we've encountered several kids who never thought they wanted a bar mitzvah, but ended up finding it a powerful experience and a major source of pride, for which some of them even thanked their parents. Bazelon would take that discovery away by caving in to any child who says she doesn't want to be bothered:
Doing away with the set age will lead to fewer b'nai mitzvahs—but they'd be more deeply felt. And that's probably a trade-off worth making. Just don't tell my kids I ever said so.
Well, it's a thought. But isn't it a bit like telling your child, "If you're not sure you really, really love geometry, then I don't even want you to go to that class. You can learn it when you're older, or whenever it makes you happy. Just please don't ever be upset with Mommy."
THE FREELANCEDAD.COM QUOTE OF THE DAY
From the same article - Bazelon reports being shocked - shocked! - to find that there are parents who come to the obvious conclusion that the intense period of learning required for a bar mitzvah might translate to other areas:
When I tutored b'nai mitzvah students for a spell, one mother expressed her fervent hope that all the practicing and study would help her son cultivate the habits he'd need to ace the SAT. And that was 10 years ago, at a progressive synagogue that I loved, in Berkeley.
In Berkeley? That's outrageous. We'll bet that mother wasn't even a vegetarian!
WHAT WILL THEY SAY WHEN THE CHILDREN ASK, "MOMMY, DOES THIS MEAN I WON'T GET INTO HUNTER?"
According to a Yale University study, preschools are expelling their charges at a rate three times that of K-12 schools (6.7 per 1,000 children enrolled, or about 5,000 kids per year). But given that preschoolers are of an age when handling their own poop is not necessarily considered a felony offense, one wonders what these children are doing to get themselves expelled.
Karen Hill-Scott, a California expert on children's development and their readiness for school, has some theories, but we're not going to pay any attention to her since she kicks off her comments by invoking a preposterous reality show:
"What the data tells us, as does the show 'Supernanny,' is that there are a lot of out-of-control kids out there," [Hill-Scott] said.
The study's chief author, Walter S. Gilliam, didn't research the reasons kids get expelled, only the numbers - which may be artificially high because he believes the same kids tend to get expelled from multiple programs - but the types of behavior that can get a kid tossed include
aggression toward the teacher or other children; actions that violate a zero-tolerance policy, like taking a toy gun to school; or anything that might cause a teacher to worry about injury and liability, like running out of the classroom to the parking lot.
Oh, man. Tiny Girl's not gonna last a week . . .
May 23, 2005 | Permalink |
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