Saturday, June 11, 2005

How was school today?

Following up on education, schools and families and all that, Judith Weiss mentions a core value in Jewish learning.

This habit of questioning and wrestling brings to mind a story about Nobel laureate Isidor Rabi, who attributed his becoming a scientist (rather than a doctor or a lawyer, like most other immigrant Jews) to his mother's way of greeting him after school. While most Jewish mothers asked their children, "Did you learn anything today?" Rabi's mother asked him, "Did you ask any good questions today?"

Contributions of the family trump everything else in a child's educational development. When I was an early teen one of our neighbors was a teacher. She came from a family of twelve siblings whose father was an illiterate Alabama farmer who saw to it that eleven of his twelve kids finished college. One of her brothers was a high school coach. I don't know about the others, but I remember the lesson.

Unfortunately, the lack of meaningful family input is equally powerful in the wrong direction.

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