Why So Many Educators Misread a Crucial Biblical Verse about Child Rearing

The book of Proverbs contains several verses about how to raise children and shape their character, but the one most popular in discussions of Jewish education today is 22:6: “Train a lad in the way he ought to go; he will not swerve from it even in old age.” From the verse’s first word, ḥanokh, is derived the modern Hebrew ḥinukh, education. But, writes Elli Fischer, it is too often misunderstood as an early articulation of what is now called “differentiated instruction,” i.e., the idea that pedagogy should be tailored to each student’s learning style:

When I hear [people] quote the familiar first half of this verse as a slogan, I sometimes ask them to complete it. Rarely are they able, and too often they are not even aware that they only recited half a verse! This is unfortunate because, taken as a whole, the verse offers a more modest but equally compelling vision of education—and, I believe, is addressed to parents more than teachers.

The “path” described is not the student’s unique personality; it is a metaphor for life. The word ḥanokh does not mean to teach or educate. Rather, as [the great medieval commentator] Rashi explains: “It is a term of initiation, the introduction of a person or object into the vocation where it will remain, as in, ‘initiate a lad,’ ‘the initiation of the Temple.’” The (re)inauguration of the Temple service is called Ḥanukkah, [a word derived from the same root].

If one initiates a child upon his path, taking those first few steps along with him, then [the child] will stay on that path as he matures. The mentor serves as the “training wheels”—there at the beginning, for the first few steps, and then letting go so the child can continue independently. The best education is one that grows and adapts with the student as she matures and encounters new circumstances.

The parent holds the child’s hand as the child learns to walk, but the goal is to let go and to stand back, beaming with pride as the child walks, then runs, along the path that they set out upon together.

Read more at 929

More about: Children, Hebrew Bible, Jewish education

Iran Brings Its War on Israel and the U.S. to the High Seas

On Sunday, the Tehran-backed Houthi guerrillas, who have managed to control much of Yemen, attacked an American warship and three British commercial vessels in the Red Sea. This comes on the heels of a series of maritime attacks on targets loosely connected to Israel and the U.S., documented in the article below by Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg. They explain that Washington must respond far more forcefully than it has been:

President Biden refuses to add the Houthis back to the official U.S. terror list—a status he revoked shortly after taking office. And [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei keeps driving toward a weapon of mass destruction with the UN’s nuclear watchdog warning that Iran is increasing its production of high-enriched uranium while stonewalling inspectors.

Refreezing all cash made available to Iran over the last few months and cracking down on Iranian oil shipments to China are the easy first steps. Senators can force Biden’s hand on both counts by voting on two bills that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Next comes the reestablishment of U.S. military deterrence. America must defend itself and regional allies against any attempt by Iran to retaliate—a reassurance Riyadh and Abu Dhabi [also] need, given the potential for Tehran to break its de-escalation pact with the Gulf Arab states. By striking Iranian and Houthi targets, Biden would advance the cause of Middle East peace.  . . . Tehran will keep attacking Americans and U.S. allies unless and until he flashes American steel.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen