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Passion vs. Practicality

Chaya* feels like a hamster on a wheel.

Invoice paid, invoice closed.
Email received, email sent.
Time clock in, time clock out.
It's the never-ending slog of her office job that gets her down every single day.

It's the joy of discovering the right path to a student's heart. The triumph of teaching the proper way to learn a possuk in Chumash. It's the breathless excitement of seeing that spark of recognition light their eyes. The nervous anticipation of a classroom full of pliable clay neshamos. It's the hard-won satisfaction over a stack of dog-eared quizzes; the roaring wave of pride after a year brought to completion.

Chaya's passion for teaching has not diminished one bit.

Her mind is crunching numbers, but her heart is not on the balance sheet.

And the reconciliation?

It's hard to say.

A well known Teaching Methods instructor approached Torah Umesorah's administration with the conundrum:

'We're firing up the girls with a passion for teaching- we take them to observe, we create 'Teaching Tracks' for them, we send them to Teachers' Seminaries-- and then what? They come home and their mothers say, "No way. Not my daughter!" So what are we doing over here?'

By paying our teachers such pitiable salaries, we are, in essence, feeding them into the machine that is today's office network. Instead of enabling our chashuve moros to support their husbands in learning through their avodas hakodesh, we are forcing them to stifle their passion for chinuch in order to make ends meet.

Is it fair to ask a young mother to hold down 2 or 3 jobs just to be able to pay the month's rent?

As Chaya laments, "I tried every which way to make our budget work on a morah's salary. It's just not possible."

So she takes her son's parsha project out of his knapsack and feels a tug inside of her as she looks down at the colorfully decorated ladder on the paper. It's Parshas Vayeitzei? I didn't even know...

After reading the article about the teacher shortage in the Ami magazine, a teacher with 10 years of experience called in to Torah Umesorah to say that she, too, was leaving the teaching field after a decade in chinuch due to the financial impossibilities she was facing. After ten years, the stretch was just not stretching any further.

And so we lost another shining, sparkling Morah.

A former high school mechaneches who is currently a computer programmer describes the phenomenon with almost painful accuracy: "Talent is appreciated much more in the corporate world than it is in the classroom."

Ouch.

After hearing from yet another 'Chinuch couple' that they do not look at resumes of 'teaching girls' for their son, the point becomes clear.

Our Bais Yaakov girls are passionate. But at a certain point, Passion is extinguished by the burning fires of Practicality. Can we as a Klal make it more practical for our Moros to do what they do best? Can we keep our superheroes in the classroom instead of relegating them to the corporate workforce? Kudos to us if we can; and if we can't...?


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