Monday, January 9, 2012

Encountering Error in Education

This past Shabbos, I had my first run-in with misinformation as a result of education in my own children. As my big boy proudly recited his parsha sheet chapter and verse (which continues to be a trip for me; my friends and I marvel at the fact that *we* are sitting at the head of a Shabbos table, listening to parsha sheets. It's still very new...), he repeated something to me that he was taught that was flat-out wrong. Not incorrect for the sake of age-appropriate learning, which has its place, but rather a common mistake in pshat. To the best of my knowledge, there isn't even an opinion that learns the text the way his teacher gave it over...

I didn't want to contradict his teacher to him, because I realize that it will cause confusion and undermine the teacher. But when I shared this observation with my wife, she wasn't even aware of the mistake. Why? - because she had always been taught the same exact thing since she was a child!

My question is this: when we encounter such problems, what is the best way to deal with them? Do we "let it go"? If that's the case, until what age? Where do our obligations lie?


Ezzie Goldish said...

I've nearly always chosen to correct, and make it clear that parents/teachers can make mistakes, too, but we should trust them unless we know for sure otherwise.

The second part of the story is why. I've found that when people are not corrected while younger, they accept wrong interpretations as fact, which can cause problems later either for them (when they discover it's not true) or others (if they insist it is).

Neil Harris said...

I agree with Ezzie. But make sure to know that you're right.
If it really bothers you, it might be helpful to discuss it with the person that taught your son.
It could be that there's something else going on or (more likely) the parsha sheet was a hand-me-down that has been used for years.

Shmuel said...

I think correcting makes sense when they're old enough to understand. If he doesn't really understand the lesson to begin with, is it worth getting all caught up in it? What age is it proper/necessary?