Saturday, October 31, 2009

Teacher industrial complex

No longer will one person teach his fellow and brother saying "Know Hashem". For they all will know me, from their smallest to greatest, says Hashem. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will no longer remember. (Yirmiyahu 31:33)

Given the obvious benefit to everyone of doing teshuva, it is surprising that so few people manage to do it. There is only one possible explanation for this fact. Clearly, there must be powerful forces in society have an interest in our not doing teshuva.

The above verse from Yirmiyahu makes clear why. There are more than 100,000 teachers in Israel, and a similar number teaching Jews in the rest of the world. The verse makes clear that when the mashiach comes, and we all due teshuva, teaching will no longer take place.

Obviously, this represents a severe threat to the job prospects of all those teachers. The stated goal of teachers, particularly in religious schools, is that students emerge with the knowledge and ethical commitments that will allow them to fill positive and productive roles in society. This goal is broadly accepted, and few people would dare to publicly question it.

But one cannot discount the powerful incentive, in terms of job security, for teachers to encourage precisely the opposite characteristics in their students. In addition, teachers are uniquely and worryingly positioned to have influence, whether positive or negative, over their students. While certainly many teachers have pure intentions, it is inevitable that many others do not.

The effects of these teachers' negative influence cannot be known with certainty, but are undoubtedly vast. It is certainly difficult to confront entrenched interests with so much power, but perhaps the following steps can help in taking back our society. First, we need an immediate moratorium on the hiring of new teachers and building of new schools. Also, a watchdog organization must be set up to monitor contacts between teachers and the gambling, weapons, and pornography industries, all of which have a shared financial interest in the misbehaviour of our children.

Only thus can the effects of the teacher-industrial complex, unseen yet with such a hegemonic influence on our society, be countered.

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