A typically cynical and insightful analysis from Ben Chorin:
Once, mechankhim were hopelessly out of touch with the modern world; they were able to impart intensity but their students were left with the work of reconciling this intense insular experience with the modern world on their own. The results varied but some interesting people turned up.I'm not sure whether this is a damning critique or a yearning for the good old days of youth that are a romanticized memory of people reaching the age of grandparenthood.
Many – definitely not all – so-called “frum” schools today have no aspiration to impart intensity. Their sole aspiration is to prevent their charges from dealing with conflict. The most alluring (and most deadly) aspects of American materialism have simply been co-opted. Pseudo-colleges have been established to avoid confrontation with any genuine intellectual challenge. Seminaries for girls, and more than a few “yeshivos”, have replaced actual learning with every manner of fluff: “hashkafa”, “mussar”, “midos”. If the bar gets any lower, the limbo dancers are gonna be out of business.
I don’t know if these institutions are simply filling a need by catering to hopelessly dumb kids or if they’re taking bright curious kids and turning them into mindless deadbeats.