Ayala Moshe, a student of mine, has been a school teacher in Israel for the past fifteen years. This year, she gave up. The audacity of students, the poor salaries, the disrespect and rudeness of parents, and the physical assaults have become too much. “I have been slapped, thrown down the stairs by students, and had to watch security camera footage showing me being thrown, when I had to defend myself in court for being a victim of an assault.”
Ayala is just one of thousands of teachers all over Israel who have had enough. According to a special report by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, thirteen percent of the teachers quit within their first year on the job. Within five years, a quarter of the teachers will be looking for a new occupation. Worse yet, the higher a teacher’s education, the more likely he or she is to leave in search of a more rewarding career. Clearly, the education system is imploding.
If I were asked what to recommend, I would advise them all to quit, every single teacher. This may be the only move that will make parents realize that education cannot be taken lightly. The education system should be the most important system in the country, and so should be the status of the teachers. We cannot throw the responsibility for the upbringing of our children on the laps of teachers who are not equipped or meant to handle it, who face mounting pressure from conflicting sources, receive an embarrassing salary, then face public scolding and derision left and right for their poor achievements. Parents must be held accountable for the behavior of their children, and they must take part in mending it.
If the system is already crumbling, it is time for parents and teachers to put their heads together, envision the kind of country and society they want to see, and design a plan to make it happen. A situation where neither parents nor teachers can bring up children to be human beings, where no one knows what values children absorb from dubious sources online and elsewhere, that situation is intolerable.
Currently, children go to school to be force-fed knowledge they neither care about nor need for life. They hate it, and therefore hate the people who feed it to them. Given the growing intolerance in society, it is no wonder that some of them turn violent.
Instead of memorizing material, they should first of all learn how to relate to one another. Afterwards, they need to learn how to learn, since they will be learning their entire lives, and finally, they need to learn how to cooperate in teams that learn together and achieve together.
In the real world, there are no individuals. Everything is achieved in teams and through cooperation with other teams. If people leave school without having learned to be good teammates, then they have been brought up to be misfits. In such a state, they will either adapt to a reality for which school did not prepare them, or they will not be able to make a proper living. Social skills are therefore vital for success in today’s world, and virtually no school teaches them.
Social skills are critical not only at work. They are the basis of every relationship—with the significant other, with the children, at work, and even with pets. If you let a person grow from infancy to adulthood without providing social skills, then you have crippled that person for life.
Now that the education system is collapsing, there is an opportunity to build it right, and our entire society will reap the benefits.