Debate Team? Sign me up!As many of you know, my high school experience, for the most part, sucked. I didn't participate in the few extra-curricular activities we had.
Every year, each girl had a "job," like Shabbaton, Yom Iyun, Layl Iyun...all the fun stuff. The few times I actually attended the meetings, I could have been invisible and inaudible. I figured, Why miss class for this? So I stopped showing up. And nobody cared.
In order to do something for these events, you have to be: rich, popular, a good dancer, or a good singer. Preferably all of the above.
So, you guessed it. I was forced to attend, but did nothing more. I am not much of a performer. Especially these cheeseball songs. I can sing in a choir, but I refused. They tried convincing me, but I wasn't going to risk having those dreadful lyrics stuck in my head.
So that was the extent of our extra-curricular activities. Many girls were excluded in the same way I was. They didn't fit the mold, and weren't part of the clique, so their ideas went unheard. Our events were yeshivish, cheesy, and trite. Not like I could have changed that. Censorship was rampant...but that's a story for another day.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the principal of a large Modern Orthodox high school for girls. Not a Bais Yaakov. Not in Brooklyn.
I got very jealous very quickly. She described the various outlets that her school provides for the students to develop as people. She said she wants her students to know that they're good at something. So if it isn't volleyball, it's the school newspaper. If it isn't the mock UN, it could be the debate team. The list went on. (Obviously, this adds up to astronomical tuition. But I'm asking for maybe half of these activities in Bais Yaakovs!)
My school newspaper in high school was a bunch of kids who were selected at the beginning of the year who wrote some kiss-up boring articles. I wasn't allowed to join. I wasn't asked to be editor, despite my blatant interest in writing. Everyone knew I liked to write. Since 3rd grade. I mean it.
Anyway, I got to thinking about why the local Bais Yaakovs don't have these things. It led me to a "chicken and egg" debate. Which came first? The lack of interest in the kids, therefore, the schools don't bother? Or is it that since the schools don't bother, the kids are not interested.
I did some research. I asked random people who I knew graduated from a local Bais Yaakov (yes, they probably thought I was nuts) whether they would have liked these kinds of activities.
The consensus was a "no," and a look of, "why would you even think of that?" One person made a good point, "let's say you get three kids on the debate team," noting that three would be a lot. "Who would actually watch these debates?" she asked. "It would be considered so nerdy." So I said, "not if it's about where the best place to buy shoes is."
In these Bais Yaakovs, where they expect us to live in a cocoon until we hit the workplace--(which, of course, should be frum anyway, right?) Which issues would we be able to debate? Abortion? Chas V'Shalom. Legalizing Marijuana? What's marijuana?
UN? Huh? Considering I was the only one in my class who actually took notes in my American Politics class, something tells me that wouldn't be a success. (I highly doubt that girls in MO schools considered American Politics boring, but that's a story for another day.)
Why are these schools less intellectual/academic than the Modern Orthodox? Well, actually, maybe they're academic in different ways. You do know that I was expected to memorize which Gadol had 200,000 people at his funeral, and where it was? And who put his hands on someone's head and said something, and what did he say? Yes. This will help me grow and develop my talents. This will certainly prepare me for college.
The goals of the MO schools are to allow these young women develop their talents, nurture their hobbies, and grow into confident, capable, well-rounded women.
Goals of Bais Yaakov? Kollel Mommies. Go to Touro for OT, PT, Speech, Psychology, Special Ed, and support your husbands in kollel.