Individual Postings 1st appeared(& were copied in html form) on the Email List Mail Jewish

From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 22:07:37 -0500 Subject: Gifted Children: Lets Produce Them! Several postings (e.g. Stanley Weinstein V25 #23) deal with the subject of how gifted children are and should be dealt with in the Jewish Education system. I wholehartedly agree with (1) raising the issue (2)its importance and with (3) the constructive suggestions that have come in so far. I would like to add another dimension to the problem: So far it is ASSUMED that children are either gifted or not---what I want to suggest is that we have the CAPACITY to make gifted children and our efforts should be so focused. In developing this theme I also want to touch on another serious issue (which deserves a whole (mail jewish ?) discussion in its own right)-- the place of women in Judaism and their "treatment". [I'd say that there have been quite a few such issues in the past. Mod.] Rather than develop the issue halachically or philosophically I will suffice with 3 stories: STORY 1: Before the four of us were born my mother was a school teacher. One day a fellow teacher protested to the principal: "Why is Miss Hendel always getting the more gifted class?." "Oh no!", replied the principal: "The average IQ in her class is the same as in the other classes..but by the end of the year her class has an IQ increase of about 20-30 points." STORY 2: My mother frequently told us at the Shabbos Tisch stories of how she "made" children gifted. Here is a simple one: "I was teaching 4th grade and I had a student with a 2nd grade reading level. Rather than classify him as stupid I inquired and found he was interested in airplanes. So I got him every book in the library I could on airplanes. By the end of the year his reading level was 8th grade." STORY 4: I recently had Shabbath dinner by some religious friends who are sympathetic to Judaic issues on women's rights. The wife was reading a book by Rebbitzen Blu Greenberg on the subject (which of course was well written and copious with sources). Eyeing the book in her living room I in passing commented that none of these books including the good ones really give the religious side. When I was asked to defend the statement I explained that: "... for example, there are no books, TV shows or magazines whose themes focus on mother heroes who continuously strive to find new ways to stimulate their infant children and raise their capacity to interact with the environment. As an immediate consequence, there are NO role models of CREATED motherhood--women who actually created new dimensions of humanity in their children. It is no wonder that without adequate role models of dynamic creative motherhood, women are "bored" and seek to gripe about what halachah will and will not allow them to do. Wouldn't you like a world, I continued, where you can go over to your girlfriends and share, not routine simchas and problems, but dynamic creativity: `Oh did you hear what so and so did with her children...look how this two year old is now behaving..what a brilliant idea, I must try it myself.'" I could go on but hopefully other people like myself who have had excellent mothers can share their experiences. I conclude with the pithy but sharp words of a master of language and nuances: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: "Why are MOTHER (AyM) and IF (IM) the same word? Quite simply, because they are the same concept, one in the human sphere and one in the logical sphere: IF mother THAN child; IF no mother than no child." Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d., ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu