Parent, Leave That Teacher Alone!

When you go to parents' day, dear mom and dad, please ask the teachers nicely to forgive you, kiss their hands in gratitude, or at least shake hands.

The summer vacation has become the parents' enemy. Now it's over. Next week, mom and dad will pack their kids up and send them off to school. Let the teachers choke on them, they'll think, and, in the words of the bar mitzvah prayer, blessed be he who has rid us of this punishment. Two to three children on vacation at home are too much to handle, but 40 of them in a classroom are easily tamed. What's the problem? Let the school repair our spoiled offspring and get our bored kids interested in something.

When the long vacation begins, so does the long lamentation. Yes, we have no greater treasure than our little dears, but not when they're on top of us all the time; there's a limit to our patience and self-sacrifice. But the torrid days of sweat and swelter were not always perceived as harsh punishment in these parts, and if you want to know what I'm talking about, take a look at S. Yizhar's "Six Summer Stories" or Nachum Gutman's "The Long Vacation and the Mystery of the Chests."

We've come a long way since then. When my mother went to a parents' day and heard from my teacher that her Yossi was a good student but not a good person, she'd come home and give me a slap, as if she had immigrated from New Zealand and not Poland. I don't care if you're a good student, mother would weep, but when will you be a mensch? My teachers were always right. Today, however, the teachers are always wrong. Parents turn all their guilt feelings into a teacher-proof tarpaulin and use it to shelter their behaviorally challenged children. My son's a genius, my daughter will go far, just as long as those dumb teachers don't get in their way.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not recommending an angry slap in the face as an educational method - just look at how I ended up. But neither do I see my mother slapping my teacher - a not unusual occurrence in our times - or scolding her, demeaning her. How dare she, that impertinent teacher, say such nasty things about her little darling, her masterpiece, who loves his mommy so very much? Even from Eilat, through the vodka haze, he phones her at least twice a day - she shouldn't worry, everything's okay with him.

What kind of teachers do we have in this country, we hear again and again. They're always on vacation and their lust for more and more vacations and less and less learning knows no bounds. Well, when average teaching time is measured according to net annual classroom hours, it turns out that Israeli teachers work more than their counterparts in the vast majority of OECD countries. And summer vacation is long in all countries and not an Israeli invention. What a big surprise! We never knew! Perhaps the teachers themselves never knew. They work more, but earn less. The Israeli teacher is the worst paid teacher in the developed world.

A new school year is beginning. When you go to parents' day, dear mom and dad, please ask the teachers nicely to forgive you, kiss their hands in gratitude, or at least shake hands. You should try it once, because you'll see that a teacher who feels appreciated is a more energetic and empowered teacher, and that's what we need.