Following hot on the trail of the 39 schoolgirls who had to be rescued off a Scottish mountain they should never have been on, and showed absolutely no gratitude to their rescuers (until the media picked up on the story), we now have London's Hasmonean schoolboys.
According to an official report by their local council, the boys' behaviour is "a real cause for concern."
"The inspectors, who spent seven days at the boys' Hendon site, said there was 'little evidence of pupils being actively engaged in lessons': There was evidence of Walkmans, mobile phones, eating, drinking, singing, chewing, games of shove ha'penny, paper aeroplanes and blackjack” -- all of the above in lessons.... They noted that 'some teachers do not see behaviour-management as their role' and said there was 'little respect for the students, which engenders a lack of respect in turn.'Of-course, this is an improvement compared to what the school used to be like; my husband describes full-on soccer matches at the back of classrooms -- as lessons were in progress (of-course, he never participated).
Some teachers used 'sarcasm or put-downs' and more than once the inspectors 'saw teachers shouting full into students' faces.'
Among other deficiencies noted were very poor attendance and punctuality, resulting in disruption of lessons."
While this kind of behaviour is hardly unique to the 'frum' system, it is hard to deny that this kind of systematic chaos is a particular problem in 'frum' schools. There are many reasons, including the over-familiarity between students and teachers, and extensive parental influence. These often apply to non-'frum' Jewish schools as well. What this report (commissioned by Hasmonean itself, by the way) does a good job of spot-lighting is a significant added cause in the 'frum' sector, and that is the incompetant teachers. Completely unsuitable people, often without teaching certificates, go into the profession because they can 'learn' -- although not necessarily teach; and because in the frum world, they might not have many other options. Some particularly nebbachy teachers are often accepted as a form of chessed, while it is anything but for the students.
Can these under-motivated, unsuitable teachers really be expected to see 'behaviour-management as their role?' Would they know how to manage behaviour if they tried?
Until now, parents have largely accepted the situation, because of a lack of options, and because the schools often still manage to bring in the results (Hasmonean, for example, is a national leader in terms of exam scores).
As indicated by both the Scottish Mountain episode and this report,
it is time for the frum(mer) community to start adopting more professional standards when it comes to hiring and firing. The safety and the values of our children are at stake; and while this plea has been issued countless times before, it is not too late to start now.