Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bitachon or caveat emptor?

While we wait for the final version of the psych report on the Things, I keep mulling over the information I got at the Small Modox Girls School interview.  Or rather, the information I didn't get.
There are two areas that I can claim expertise in, based on sheer experience.  One is moving (25 addresses in as many years on Earth.)  The other is school.  I went to eight brick and mortar schools in four states, six public, two private, before saying "the heck with it" and dropping out to DIY it when I was 16.  I have been to rich schools, poor schools, single-sex, coed, inner-city, suburban, magnet--you name it.  I have, however, never attended a parochial school or an "alternative theory" (Montessori, Waldorf, etc.) school.  Now, in my experience, school follows some basic protocols.  Students spend the lion's share of their days sitting in class either listening to a teacher or completing assignments.  Classes are based on the "textbook-worksheet" model, where the assignments center around either filling in a worksheet or answering questions in the back of a textbook chapter.  The only difference is in the teaching staff, and to some degree, in the curriculum.
While I was at the interview, I saw the Hebrew curriculum.  Obviously, the menahel is very proud to use Tal Am and teach Ivrit b'Ivrit.  However, I didn't get any information about the actual scope of the secular curriculum.  Nor is that information on their website.  (I'm going to go out on a limb and assume they actually have a curriculum.)  I also could not see a classroom.  I did, however, hear about all the "movies" (I've seen them--they're glorified PowerPoint slideshows), assemblies, and parties.  Great, but that doesn't tell me about what happens in class.  In other words, I have no idea how the Things would spend the majority of their time.  When I pressed for details, I was told to "have bitachon."
Now, we are not only talking about a place where my children will spend the majority of their waking hours ten months out of the year, but we are also talking about a financial commitment equivalent to buying a car.  Every year.  For the next decade.  Now, I have seen that there are cars on the lot.  I have heard about the leather interior, the sound system and the power windows.  I have even seen a picture of the car.  But I have not taken the car for a test-drive.  I have not peeked under the hood.  In fact, I have not even seen the physical car.  If I were to buy the car with that little information, I would be considered foolish and irresponsible.  So, why should I have that much faith and trust in the people who will be caring for and educating my children when I have no idea what they're doing?


  1. My vote is Caveat Emptor.

    However, if you really want the best feedback, find people whose kids go there (through networking, you or someone you know have got to know SOMEONE), then you talk to the parents AND their kids.... the idea is to on a random day hear what they learned that day, as well as just a random day. Also, if you have a friend whose 6 year is in their first grade and you read a book with her and see that she reads like T1 and then you ask, "so, do you think the kids in your class read better, worse or about the same as you?" Yadda yadda... You want feedback, that's how you will get it. Also, I wasn't aware of so many true Modox schools in Brooklyn. The one that comes to mind you wouldn't send your kids to, you and I have discussed. Is this school actually modox or more like a modern yeshivish? I know all about the three schools in Queens and I've seen their school work and would be able to get more info for you no prob. Brooklyn would be harder but if you want me to find out about a school, you could message me on FB and I'll poke around amongst my many friends from Bk College and possibly find someone who went there and get the kind of info you want that way.

  2. oh and actually my suspicion is that an 7 and a half year old at most BY schools would read like T1 since 6 year old girls at BY in Queens read like she read two years ago. I really don't know how BK and Queens compare.

  3. The one bit of feedback I got was from the educational psychologist and her kid. The psychologist was trying to sell me on the school. "I'm not just an evaluator, I'm a parent!" However, her own kid--very different story.
    "You love Pre-1a right? You love school?"
    "No." Just point-blank no. Now there's a ringing endorsement.


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