Dei’ah veDibur has a nice summary of the Haredi communities recent struggles with the Israeli education ministry and the required “core” curriculum. In a nutshell, the Israeli government wants to force the Hareidi schools to teach secular subjects such as “science” and “English.” The government plans to link state funding with compliance to this core curriculum, such that a school which teaches 75% of the curriculum will only get 75% of its alloted funding. Naturally, the Haredi world is quite upset at this, and managed to delay this implementation for at least another year.
The Haredi community opposes any teaching of secular studies in any form. They blacklisted “hareidi” yeshivas which tempt the boys with secular knowledge, and as mentioned here a while back women may not even receive professional training. Instead, all Hareidi men and women should strive to “toil in Torah.”
But according to Shinui MK Ilan Shalgi , chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, “They want to keep them severed, ignorant and poor, under their authority and dependent on them . . . ”
So, how to we get these two to make up? I’d suggest teaching that which the Talmud explicitly permits and/or encourages. Keep in mind, the Tannaim and Amoraim were not “from the knitted-kippoh ranks.”
Instead of teaching English, teach Greek which is permitted for men (B. Sotah 49b) and perhaps encouraged for women.(Y. Peah 1:1 15c).
If the Hareidi community doesn’t just want to keep their client?le “under their authority,” then train them to become gedolim. That would mean learning 70 languages (though not neccesarilly English, although the context of the gemara would require it).(B. San 17a) Furthermore, R. Yohanan requires that members be “ba’alei keshafim.” So we can add to the curriculum comparative religion. Or perhaps alchemy.
Biology? Teach the guys how to do shehita and how to check for t’reifot. Physics? How to calculate the new moons. Even Ra’avad couldn’t do that. Art? Teach safrut. Seriously, I know someone who took YU’s safrut class to fulfill the art requirement. History? “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations.” (Devarim 32:7)
See – it’s all a matter of packaging the material. You can still teach all these things in the context of Torah – and better yet practical Torah.
Now about this serving in the army thing…