I was sicced onto this article by Yoni, since apparently I have not been getting ired enough in the recent past. The approach of the author is not, I may say, unfamiliar to me, although I had never had the whole thing spelled out in quite so much detail- R' Grossman was the principal of my former high school and I may well recognize the people behind some of his anecdotes. (I don't seem to have made it in there myself.)
Well, first of all, let me say that there's a lot valid there. I think that he is correct that people do not stop being frum because of the temptations, seductions, and lures of the 'Goyish' street, but rather because they are dissatisfied with what they are being offered in their schools. I certainly agree that harsh discipline is the wrong approach the problems and everyone should go for understanding and discovering underlying issues whenever possible. I think that he is also correct that it is time to fight the battle that is in front of us instead of the one that we fought in the past, or would like to be fighting now.
I do not, however, agree on what that battle is. I do not think that 'mussar haskel' and warm life lessons are insufficiently emphasized in our chumash and nach classes; the conclusion that many people are intellectually dissatisfied with Judaism but stay for emotional reasons does not, for me, naturally lead into the conclusion that we must create emotional bonds so that people will stay. I do not believe that students are being educated with too large an emphasis on the cognitive and intellectual, and I do not believe that suitable gentle peer pressure will be enough to make everybody realize that everything they are taught is 100% right. I can't say that I think that a question about why tzniut is emphasized so much more than other midot is necessarily indicative of deep rebellion, as the article seems to assume we will assume. I don't really think that the goyish street is actually a cesspit of stupidity, emptiness, and fleeting pleasures, but that's a bit of a different issue
And- perhaps this is bias speaking- I certainly not believe that children are simply 'empty shells, waiting for the right teacher to fill the vacuum'.
I'm not sure that I believe that I have the answer for the chinuch problems, but I certainly have a novel suggestion: Why don't we try assuming that the students are intelligent, reasonable people, who are bothered by genuine cognitive and intellectual concerns? It's not, of course, always true. Most teenagers are pretty dumb, and those that aren't are so young and proud and earnest and confused and simplistic that they might as well be. (I speak primarily of myself).
But maintaining this illusion will 1) give them the feeling that you view them as actual people with minds and thoughts and contributions and so forth, instead of charming little tabula rassa's just waiting to be filled up with lovely sketches of kollel husbands and wives, 2) will let them know that questions- their questions- are valid and not necessarily contradictory to being Orthodox and that nobody is going to run after them screaming "An atheist! Burn her!" and 3) might actually give them some useful answers or tools to discover them.
I sat through 4 years of high school and I had inspiration and gushiness and love and morals and trust until they poured out of my ears. My heart was played on day after day, and my notebooks managed to look after themselves, but nobody was really doing much to deal with the head.
What I didn't get was answers. Or a license to ask questions. Or a reassurance that I was respected by those who claimed to hear me but who poured my words into their molds and boxes so that they could help the only ways that they knew (more love and so forth).What I didn't really get was a sense that my religion actually was valid and brilliant. Which is a pity. 'Cuz I tend to think it is.
*All this relates to the intellectual style rebel. The behavioral rebel- the kind who wants to act out and talk to boys or wear pants or both (maybe even at the same time)- they usually straightened out in seminary unless they had been turned off by censure and harsh discipline- another point that I agree with in the article- or had the intellectual issues as well.