Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ekev 76 - What you resist, persists - the case for positive education

In our parasha, Moses continues to encourage the nation to trust in God to ensure the successful conquest and settlement of the land. In order to help the nation build trust in God and see God as the source of their success and power, Moses describes God's care and providence. God protected them from the hardships of the desert,' HE fed you the manna, your garment did not wear out upon you and your feet did not swell' – ויאכילך את המן, שמלתך לא בלתה ורגלך לא בצקה  . Moses reminds them that the goodness comes with challenges and hardships in order to prepare them for life in the land of Israel. In order to survive in Israel, one needs a high level of faith and trust in God and life in the desert למען ענתך לנסותך, ויענך וירעבך ויאכילך את המן, כאשר ייסר איש את בנו - living a life dependent on miracles, not being able to store food for the next day and or do anything that will give life some certainty and predictability, prepared them for life in Israel. They should know that this path was for their benefit. Moses then warns about the dangers that prosperity brings – arrogance, self- aggrandizement and self- glorification. This leads to forgetting God and saying ' it is my strength and the might of my hand that made me all this wealth'. Ultimately this leads to idolatry, going after the gods of others.
כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי, עָשָׂה לִי אֶת-הַחַיִל הַזֶּה. וְהָיָה, אִם-שָׁכֹחַ תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, וְהָלַכְתָּ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים 

The first question is that on entry into the land of Israel, the children of Israel are commanded to destroy all manifestations and vestiges of idolatry as it would be unbefitting that idolatry should exist in God's palace, the land of Israel. So why is Moses so concerned about idolatry, if the land has been cleaned out of any temptations and enticement? The 2nd question – prosperity allows people to be independent rather than dependent on God and so people attribute their success to their own efforts and beings, rather than God's support, so why would people then subjugate themselves and submit to idols. ? R' Isaac Sher gives 2 answers. At a time when there existed a passion for idolatry, people had the power to use these negative forces of idolatry to improve their materialistic situations. The second answer - when a man attributes all his success to his own doing, he is denying God's role and he begins to worship himself. A person who is rude and coarse, gets angry – thinks he is a god and people have to listen to him. A person who is arrogant and self-glorifies himself is involved in idolatry = uvoda zara. An atheist or non-believer, even though he does not believe  in anything but himself is also an idolater. When one puts his trust in others and flatters people with power - החונף he is considered worse than an idolater. A person who is an idolater's slave is considered as if he serves idolatry. The verse in Judges 10: 6 gives a list of gods of the surrounding nations that the children of Israel worshipped and served. ויעבדו את הבעלים ואת העשתרות ואת אלהי ארם ואת אלהי  צידון ואת אלהי מואב ואת אלהי בני עמון ואת אלהי פלשתיםThe Midrash connects this idolatry to the children of Israel's laziness and lack of effort in prayer. R' Isaac Sher explains that when people  do not tire from activities that serve their interests but are tired when it comes to prayer, it means that the nation   places more value and trust in political agreements and alliances with the surrounding nations than prayer, and that people have more faith in their efforts than in prayer. When this happens – it is as if the nation serves the gods of these nations and people who cheapen prayer do the same.
Although there is a commandment to clear out and destroy idols and manifestations of idolatry, the thrust of Moses' speech is positive, focusing on building trust and relationship with God. If you have a problem with idolatry, the underlying problem is your relationship with God. The problem is mainly within man and not outside of him, so we focus on building personalities rather than engineering the environment so there is not temptation or enticement.

A similar problem - a man is overcome with lustful thoughts when he is certain environments. The Talmid= student of R' Chaim Volozhin, the Keter Rosh wrote down the teachings of his mentor. He writes about a man, (most likely unmarried) who had a problem with impure thoughts when he sees women. In order to deal with his problem and fight his lustful thoughts he decides to make a vow not to look at women. If he breaks his vow and looks at a woman, his desire will burn inside him like a fire. The situation is much worse, since he fought reality and energized the negative action he was fighting. Instead, he should accept the reality and pray for God's  assistance  and mercy in dealing with the challenges as he ventures into the market place.  He is not told to avoid the market place. R' Moshe Feinstein said– if a person is challenged by public transport he should know he has a problem and work on himself.
כתר ראש ארחות חיים קצה ] הסתכלות עריות ושיחתן אמר  זה הכלל כל מה שינדור א״ע ויפרוש מראיה אח״כ  אם יראה ויביט יבער בו היצר כאש, אלא כשדעתו לילך בשוק יתפלל ויבקש רחמים לבל יכשל ח׳יו בשום נדנוד חטא והרהור עבירה ר׳ל;
כתר ראש - הנהגותיו שנכתבו בידי תלמידו  של ר, חיים מולוזהין רבי אשר הכהן משערשוב.

When we are dealing with children we need to give them structure and make the environment safe and protect them from e.g.  bad diet – sugar and the media. The solution for adults – engineering the environment beyond the demands of Halacha – Jewish Law so that the environment will be free of any temptation or challenges has many downsides. The focus is no longer on positive education and   building righteous people who can overcome challenges, but on creating a sterile environment and fighting the external threats to a person's spirituality. There is another problem – when you fight ' evil', you actually support and strengthen ' evil' as Carl Jung said - 'what you resist persists'. The answer is to accept reality and not to fight reality and then focus on positive steps and education which will help you change reality. ' 'What you resist , persists' -   means that if a person has a character flaw – lustful thoughts , or he has an anger problem or he has food or drink problems, the more the person fights the reality, the bigger the problem becomes. He has ' energized the problem and given it center stage in his life. Instead of going away, it fights back and persists.  If a man has bad thoughts, he can use the principles of Mindfulness – acknowledge his thoughts, put them aside and then focus on his breathing and then something else. If he tries to resist these thoughts, they fight back and persist. He should be building his personality so his mind is occupied with ideas or being mindful of what he is doing so he is not distracted. He should try to see the image of God – צלם אלוקים in each person and relate to their contribution to society instead of focusing on their gender. If  he breaks his diet ,  resists and fights back by being  over-critical of himself, full of shame , he will ultimately  give up , and say ' what the hell and then he will go on the binge – eating and drinking without any restraints. So a person with a drink or diet problem , needs a plan that will focus on what he can eat , replacement foods , a new life style instead of focusing of what he should not eat. When he does fail and breaks his diet, he should have some self- compassion instead of being over- critical and giving energy to breaking his diet and focus on getting back on track. Campaigns against 'talking in shul ' will be more successful if they focus on positive education and not ' energizing' talking in shul. Campaigns about the dangers of internet and cell phones tend to cause people to shift blame from people and their relationships or exploring underlying problems and just blame it all on the internet. People forget that the most potent and dangerous communication tool is our tongues and not the cell phone or the internet. Here too, we need to focus on the positive, what we can talk about and connect with people in a positive way. Even if a person makes a conservative and restricted choice concerning the media, he has to remember the downside of resisting and energizing the dangers - the negative side and focus on positive education. In politics, candidates in election who focus on the negative of their opponents rather than saying something positive about themselves, strengthen their opponents. The campaign to remain in the European Community failed because it focused on negative consequences of leaving rather than the positive reasons for staying in the community. Instead of giving a list of what pupils  cannot do in the holidays, a teacher should focus on what they could do.

There is tendency in education to try and control the environment and people's choices rather focus on positive education and build people. When the focus is on fighting the negative, we need to understand the downside – 'what we resist persists.'

Friday, August 19, 2016

Va'etchanan 76 - Education - For what ?

The parasha talks about education in the section of the She'ma  - שמע ישראל   and the exodus –יציאת מצרים. The purpose of education may be to help a child serve God and be of service of man, and developing and refining his character. It also focuses on acquiring a profession or a trade.  Today, the notion is that the schools' first priority should be intellectual development. Prof. Nel Noddings argues that the main aim of education should be to produce competent, caring, loving and lovable people. Seymour Sarason speaks about inculcating in the child a desire to learn, to become a life-long learner. John Dewey, the father of constructivist education talks about education not being a preparation for life, but life itself. His colleague William Killpatrick talks about both goals – education prepares best for life when at the same time it constitutes the present worthy life itself. Judith Shapiro said - You want the inside of your head to be an interesting place to spend the rest of your life. There are those who focus on what everyone their age is supposed to know – E.D Hirsch , as opposed to others who believe that the  purpose of education is not primarily to help children know more , rather , it is to help them become better to be able to think , be reflective ,  care , imagine, understand and adapt – to become autonomous learners. While most parents will agree that education should focus on the whole child and making him a better person, they and government officials are more concerned about the economic benefits – being more competitive in the job market or providing skilled workers to enhance corporate profits and global competitiveness. The result is that learning for its own sake and the material learned has little value and what counts is the graduation certificate or degree. Governments also see education as a means of fighting poverty and encourage everyone to go to college.  The result has been that getting a college degree can lift one out of poverty and make one financially successful is now considered a myth- there has been widening gap between rich and poor despite there being more college graduates ,  one out of six college graduates earns less than the average wage of high school graduates. A college degree, especially a general or an Arts degree helps if you are born to a rich family, have privilege and connections. A white school leaver will be more successful than a black college graduate in the USA. Discrimination, the 'poverty trap' and other structural features of the USA society are obstacles to the upward mobility of poorer people with education. The focus should be more on providing jobs with decent salaries. There is also a call for more ' vocational training.' Vocational training however should also focus on personal fulfillment, empowerment and promoting all the thinking skills that come with a good academic education. Otherwise, John Dewey says -there is a danger that vocational education will be interpreted in theory and practice as trade education: as a means of securing technical efficiency in specialized future pursuits. Education would then become an instrument of perpetuating unchanged the existing industrial order of society, instead of operating as a means of its transformation. The desired transformation is not difficult to define in a formal way. It signifies a society in which every person shall be occupied in something which makes the lives of others better worth living, and which accordingly makes the ties which bind persons together more perceptible—which breaks down the barriers of distance between them. (Dewey, 1916/2001, p. 325)

The parasha on the She'ma says that we should teach our children diligently– ושננתם לבנך  - Rashi explains that a person should repeat and review his learning so that if he is asked a question about Torah, he will not be embarrassed and will respond immediately. This implies that one should have knowledge of Torah and learn to know the Torah. וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם--עַל-לְבָבֶךָ.  And these words that I command you this day should be on your heart – this day – we should look at the words of Torah, not as an old text which we have heard and reviewed many times, but something new, that generates curiosity and interest so we will be able to discover new insights and depths of understanding and make meaning of our learning. The learning should not be academic but touch our hearts and becomes part of us, internalized and integrated. We should speak in Torah with our children and pupils – ודברת בם  . The way we learn is collaboratively, discussing ideas with others and being challenged by their thinking.  In a later chapter the Torah then tells us how to respond to a question of one's children about God's commandments כִּי-יִשְׁאָלְךָ בִנְךָ מָחָר, לֵאמֹר:  מָה הָעֵדֹת, וְהַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים – that the purpose of the Exodus was to become God's people in the land of Israel. This alludes to  the importance of stimulating children's interest, curiosity and questions that  will drive learning. In our prayers we ask – והערב נא ה' ..את דברי תורתך בפינו...ונהיה לומדי תורתך לשמה That God sweeten the words of his Torah in our mouths and … we should be intrinsically motivated and  study Torah for its own sake. We ask for understanding that will enable us to ' learn, teach and to do' all the teachings of the Torah – להבין ולהשכיל ללמוד וללמד ..ולעשות

We seem to have 2 goals – knowledge of the Torah and being involved in the learning process, deepening our understanding and connection with God. The question is how we reconcile the 2 goals. This reminds of the 2 approaches to education – the Old School transmission model where kids are seen as empty pales in which knowledge has to be poured in. Hirsh E.D speaks of a Core Curriculum for each grade dictating what kids should at the end of each year. While he acknowledges that thinking is the goal of education one needs a body of facts to think about. The constructivist approach acknowledges that knowledge is important, but when the focus is on quantity, the learning is shallow and the goal is to memorize what has been taught. Not only don't we get to thinking, but after the ' test' everything is forgotten. Facts should be taught not in a vacuum , but  given a ' context' by questions, problems and projects .Instead of a Core Curriculum built on different and fragmented subjects and focused on acquiring knowledge , constructivist education focuses on helping students understand ideas from the inside out, to learn how to think creatively and critically, and they involve students in designing a curriculum that’s organized around problems, projects and questions, trying to integrate skills, topics and disciplines in a meaningful context and in a multi-disciplinary way  rather than one based on feeding them lists of facts. What drives the acquisition of knowledge are interest, curiosity and making meaning of the world. It encourages children to be active learners, have the desire to keep learning, reflecting on and internalizing their learning. They do not absorb knowledge but ' construct knowledge'. Montaigne wrote that without a the appetite and affection for learning, children will become little more than ' asses loaded with books' -  חמור נושא כלים . The kind of knowledge that children most need is the knowledge that will help them get more knowledge. Children are taken seriously. We start trying to find out what they know, what they notice and encourage their questions. The teacher throws in her questions and complicates matters, challenging their thinking. It is conflict, whether stimulated by the teacher or peers that challenges thinking, that gets kids to reflect on their thinking and grow. Learning takes place through speaking and discussing. Deborah Meier says that teaching is essentially listening and learning is essentially speaking. In a traditional classroom it is only the teacher who is doing the learning. In a classroom where the focus is on learning in pairs or groups, real learning and deep thinking takes place. When we have children's interest and they find learning relevant, the stage is set for  teaching  the thinking skills. Deborah Meier says we should encourage the 5 habits of the Mind – asking about evidence  - how do we know what we know, whose point of view and perspective , connecting and associating learning, supposition – how might things have been otherwise, and relevance , why is the learning important , something to care about. In the classroom kids not only are given a choice but can generate choices regarding social and learning issues.

With Talmudic study, we can resolve the conflict by learning focusing on covering ground and intense deep learning by not answering all our questions Both types of learning we focus on understanding and asking questions, we just don't answer all our questions. The Yeshivah and Talmudic environment preceded the ' constructivist movement ' many centuries. The focus is on collaborative learning in pairs and groups dealing with questions, problems and case studies. It is the questions that drive the acquisition of knowledge and deriving the underlying principles of Talmudic reasoning.

In the modern world education that focuses on personal development rather than a trade and profession has value also in terms of employment. People who might not have specific training are employed because they have critical thinking and analytical skills and can be trained. Professionals and others in the work force testify how they Talmudic studies have given those thinking skills, thinking in a multidisciplinary way and ability to work in teams and collaborate. The Talmud at the end of Kidushin quotes R' Nehorrai –' I will not teach my son a profession only Torah'. Today, teaching Torah is not only important for acquiring an education, personal development and ones relationship with God and the community but also contributes to critical thinking skills needed in the work place.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Devarim 76 - Conquest or Agreement and Cooperation

Parashat Devarim precedes the fast of the 9th of Av – Tish'ah be' Av, the day of national mourning for the destruction of the 2 Temples and exile from the land of Israel. The reason is because Moses in his final address  to the Israelites recalls the ' sins of the spies ', the root cause of the destruction of the 2 temples and exile.  The nation spoke badly about the land of Israel and expressed a lack of faith in God to conquer the land and support the life of the nation in the land.  The root of the sins that caused the destruction of the temples and the exile was this lack of faith and a proper spiritual connection to the land of Israel. As a result of the Babylonian exile the country lost its Kedushah, holiness and sanctity, which is expressed by the fact, that the land of Israel is no different to any other country. There are no agricultural mitzvoth so people are no longer obliged to separate tithes from the produce of the land or observe the Sabbatical year – Shmittah when in the 7th year the land lies fallow. This holiness – called the first sanctity = ' keushah rishonah 'was introduced into the land, when Joshua conquered the land of Israel and the land was under Jewish jurisdiction. When the land was conquered by foreign nations it lost its holiness. The city of Jerusalem and the temple mount and temple, despite being in ruins and governed by foreigners never loses its holiness, because the divine presence, the source of its holiness never leaves the city, and thus its ' kedushah rishonah, first holiness remains intact. The Persian king Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to Israel under the leadership of Ezra and build a temple. Ezra re-consecrated and sanctified the land for a second time and this is known as the 2nd sanctification or ' kedushah sheniyah'. The Rambam – Hilchot Beit Ha' Bechirah 6:16 explains that the 2nd Sanctification is permanent and everlasting even after the destruction of the 2nd temple and Roman exile. The reason is that Ezra's sanctification was not through the conquest of the land but came about through the formal acquisition of the land when Cyrus returned the land to the Jewish people and a legal ' Chazakah' was made on the land. Therefore, even if the land is taken away from the Jewish people by force, the land retains its holiness – kedushah, because the legal transaction of ownership through acquisition remains binding. ולמה אני אומר במקדש וירושלים קדושה ראשונה קדשה לעתיד לבוא ובקדושת שאר א"י לענין שביעית ומעשרות וכיוצא בהן לא קדשה לעתיד לבוא לפי שקדושת המקדש וירושלים מפני השכינה ושכינה אינה בטלה והרי הוא אומר והשמותי את מקדשיכם ואמרו חכמים אע"פ ששמומין בקדושתן הן עומדים אבל חיוב הארץ בשביעית ובמעשרות אינו אלא מפני שהוא כבוש רבים וכיון שנלקחה הארץ מידיהם בטל הכבוש ונפטרה מן התורה ממעשרות ומשביעית שהרי אינה מן ארץ ישראל וכיון שעלה עזרא וקדשה לא קדשה בכיבוש אלא בחזקה שהחזיקו בה ולפיכך כל מקום שהחזיקו בה עולי בבל ונתקדש בקדושת עזרא השנייה הוא מקודש היום ואף על פי שנלקח הארץ ממנו וחייב בשביעית ובמעשרות על הדרך שביארנו בהלכות תרומה
 It seems a little strange that the conquest of the land by Joshua and subsequent Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel should have less of an impact on the inherent holiness and sanctity of the land of Israel than the ' autonomy ' that Cyrus granted the returning Jews. In the verse Deut. 1:8 Moses says to the Israelites –' Behold I have set the land before you, go in and possess the Land which God swore to your forefathers ….' The Rashi commentary notes – there is no one who will contest the matter, you will need not wage a war. Indeed, had they not sent the spies, but trusted in God's promise, they would not have needed weapons of war.  ראה נתתי לפניכם את הארץ באו ורשו את הארץ אשר נשבע ה' לאבותיכם......רש"י אין מערער על בדבר ואינכם צריכים למלחמה אלו לא היו מרגלים לא היו צריכים לכלי זיין                                                                                                  
 Thus, the conquest of the land of Israel was symptomatic of an inherent flaw and spiritual defect in the children of Israel. On the other hand, the return of the exiles from Babylon was made possible by the agreement of the nations to the rebuilding of the temple and a new Jewish settlement in Israel and tremendous sacrifice and dedication by the new settlers. This indicated a more spiritual beginning and establishment of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. This explains why the ' kedushah shniyah ', the 2nd sanctification of the land of Israel was permanent and despite the destruction of the 2nd temple and exile, the inherent holiness of the land remains intact. The conquest and coercion of Joshua's entry into the land was preceded by a degree of coercion used at the initial receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Sages describe God's coercion as if He was holding the mountain over their heads forcing them to accept the Torah. The Torah was ultimately accepted willingly only after the miracle of Purim that preceded Ezra's entry into the land of Israel. It is this acceptance of the Torah, rather than the acceptance that occurred at Mount Sinai that binds the Jewish people.

Education is often seen as a ' conquest', and getting kids to do something or engage in learning. The underlying ' rationale' is that if you ask a kid to do something, he will refuse and offering explanations and reasons won't help either. Education begins after the kid has done or learned something. We should then offer encouragement and help the kid reflect on what he has done and learned. What usually happens is that the focus is on motivating kids to act and this usually by being assertive and insistent or using extrinsic motivators like rewards, grades or consequences. The discussion after an action or learning is usually about ' how well'  the kid acted or learned , rather than focusing on what the kid has done or learned and helping the kid connect with the action or learning and become more intrinsically motivated. Even if the discussion is about what the kid has done or learned, the coercion or seduction, no matter how small leaves a negative impact on the child. It is often asked why not use rewards or find something insignificant to lure kids into reading or doing something and then fade them out later?  The introduction of an extrinsic motivator immediately changes the whole Gestalt – the way a child looks at herself, the way she looks at the person offering the reward and the way she looks at the task.

We can make children our allies and partners in learning and pro-social behavior, not by first coercing them and then trying to explain and help them reflect on the value of what they did, but by focusing on learning and tasks that are interesting, engaging, relevant and worthwhile. We can support their autonomy by bringing them into the decision making process about their learning and how we can transform our school into a caring community. When we don't focus on control, judgment and evaluation and move the locus of control to the students themselves, we allow them to connect to their learning, be self-determined and intrinsically motivated to contribute to the well-being and learning of a caring community of learners. This is the difference between motivating or inspiring kids. Motivating kids – your focus is overcoming resistance, conquering the enemy. Inspiring kids – is supporting their autonomy and allowing them to connect to their inner cores,  be intrinsically motivated to learn and to do and focused on long-term goals of becoming better and more interesting people.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Masei -76 Hypocrisy , Flattery and Authenticity in Education

In our parasha God warns the children of Israel about the sanctity of life. Like Noah, who was about to leave the ark, the children of Israel are about to enter the Land of Israel. Both are warned to safeguard the sanctity of life – Noah  Ber.9:6 שופך דם האדם באדם דמו ישפך   - Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed – and in our parasha Numbers 36:33
ולארץ  לא יכופר לדם אשר שפך בה כי בדם שופכו and the land will not have atonement for the blood 
    that was spilled in it , except through the blood of the one who spilled it.
A convicted murderer forfeits the right of existence, the right to dwell on the land. If the act of murder was unintentional but there was carelessness, the perpetrator is exiled to a city of refuge and remains there until the death of the High Priest. His rights on the land are now limited because of his failure to exercise care concerning the life of someone else.  The most serious of situations is – when a person is convicted for murder buys his freedom .According to the Torah , it is difficult to get a murder conviction because there is no such thing as circumstantial evidence. The murder has to be witnessed by 2 witnesses who warned the murderer before committing the act of murder that it is forbidden by the Torah and the consequence is that he will be killed by a court if found  guilty.  In such a case where the guilty person pretends to be innocent and the court is guilty of institutionalized hypocrisy and  does not execute the man, the land is made into a ' hypocrite' and 'defiled'.  ולא תחניפו ...ולא תטמא את הארץ

The Torah uses an unusual expression –' don't turn the land into a hypocrite.' A hypocrite is someone whose actions, external behavior or words don't match his inner thoughts, core or essence. R' SR Hirsch explains that in the Hebrew, the root of the verb that the verse uses is חנף =  cha'naf . This is related to the word ענף  = a'naf , a branch of a tree that supports the fruit that springs from it. The substitution of the letters 'chet' for' ayin' is an expression of negation. What appears to be a branch does not fulfill its design, promise and mission. It does not bear the fruit expected of it. It looks like a proper branch, but at its core it is not – like a hypocrite. The design and mission of the land of Israel is to express its inner core and essence and produce the blessings of the land, but when it does not express its potential and is barren because of the acts of man, man has made the land into a hypocrite. The land is no longer authentic and true to its mission. ( Ramban, R' SRH)

The problem with this translation –' do not make the land into a hypocrite'  is that in a sense the land is being authentic to its source and inner core, when due to man's sins it no longer produces and lies barren. It is the nature of the land of Israel to respond to man's action - with blessings and plenty of produce in response to his positive actions and with curses and barren fields when man sins. The Kli Yakar translates the        לא תחניפו     , as do not cause the land to flatter you, from the word – cha'nu'pah – flattery. When a person expresses insincere praise in order to get something from another   person, he is flattering him and is therefore acting like a hypocrite. The Persian King A'hasvei'rosh flattered the Jews by inviting them to his royal party and they in turn flattered him, by showing their appreciation and enjoying the hospitality. When the land continues to respond in a normal way to man's sin and unauthentic behavior and bears the produce of the land, it is also being unauthentic and hypocritical. When the land in response does not produce its yield, it is being authentic and faithful to its mission.

We can answer - that according to the Ramban and R' SRH the land is made into a hypocrite when it objectively does not fulfill its ultimate mission to produce crops and harvest. The Kli Yakar speaks in relative terms – the mission of the land is to respond to people's actions so when the land still produces despite man's sin, it is responding to man with flattery.

The antithesis of hypocrisy and flattery is the High Priest. He shows a continuous interest and concern for his people in his prayers that people should not be found guilty in court and that people do not sin, be careless and negligent so people's lives are put at risk and die. He does not flatter or praise people in order to ' get' but is  genuine and authentic. 

When it comes to educating and raising children and students, the focus is on the ' Lo lishma ', not doing things or learning because they in their essence are valuable to kids. This is much worse than ' making the land ' into a hypocrite ' or flattering the land. Here, we build kids to be hypocrites and non- authentic people. We are building relationships that are conditional and kids and people are only accepted if they perform or behave as demanded. Parents and teachers are more often  than not, not  authentic and use flattery to get kids to jump through their hoops. Parents are told to ' catch them when they are good ' and then praise them. The praise is used is to flatter kids so they will be more easy to handle and control. It is not authentic or sincere, but used in order to get. The problem with praise that even if it sincere it is experienced as controlling and as judgment by kids. Instead care givers can help kids reflect on how their behavior has consequences for others, rather than consequences for themselves and how they can impact on others and their classroom. Consequences don't help kids to ask – what type of person do I want to be or does my behavior reflect my inner core values. They are never brought into a process, where they can participate on what values should guide their classroom and how problems should be solved. Instead of addressing underlying problems and concerns of both care givers and children , adults unilaterally focus only on their concerns and when expectations are not met , use either positive or negative reinforcements . Rewards, punishments, consequences and praise don't solve problems; just make sure that the locus of control with the adults instead of putting the locus of control with kids and helping them take true responsibility for their education. We want kids to be self-motivated and inspired by their essence and core values, see value in what they do and not become dependent on extrinsic motivators and the approval of others. 

 The educational system is driven by extrinsic motivators like rewards, grades, honor rolls and praise.  The focus is on superficial and extrinsic performance goals such as test scores rather than focusing on the whole child , his thinking, intrinsic competence goals ,helping him develop a love for learning and learning to form his own judgments , getting pleasure in his own achievements and feeling a sense of competence and self-pride.  In schools, material that is not on the test or won't be graded has no value.  Learning has no value in itself - the focus is to get the highest score, the easiest way possible. So in order to motivate kids to learn the focus is on ' how kids learn ' , so there is plenty of praise for high test scores instead of helping kids focus on what they are learning.  Kids are never asked if they find their learning relevant and meaningful and given a chance to participate in deciding on a curriculum that focuses on their questions, interests and curiosity. The alternative to praise  or grades is encouragement and informational feedback -  a conversation between the adult and child where the adult uses responses that describe rather than judge and asks questions about the process – why the child decided to act or write in a certain way. The renowned teacher – Joe Bower said that assessment is not a rubric but a conversation. Praise and flattery is not a conversation , but doing to kids instead of working with them.