Hello there peoples (...I don't know, sometimes I get the feeling like I need to say hello. ..I mean, if someone is reading it, they should be told 'hello', no? ..whatever..).
In order that it shouldn't pass from my mind as it came: I have two opinions about yeshiva reforms (in this context), one academic and one structural. One I pondered about many years ago, and one only a few years ago. One theologically reasonable and one a bit more questionable in a theological sense.
Firstly- it is my opinion that yeshivas are very much limiting themselves in regards to the diversity of classes that could be taught in such an institution, and that could be considered 'Torah' (or not far from it). Now, Yeshiva University and Stern College obviously have diverse classes, as well as the Jewish Theological Seminary (among others which are not quite worth mentioning in this context), but they are not 'yeshivot' in that sense, but rather Jewish Universities. I mean a place with 100 per cent religious studies; a place for a child and student of the West to go and find solace from the unG-dly elements which wish to contaminate their soul (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is a good idea, but not really what I'm getting at here).
To-day, obviously, not much is taught in yeshivot outside of Talmud. If it is it's usually on a very 'fluffy' (if I may) level. But there is such a broad range of subjects that comprises 'Torah' in the most staunch sense. Aside from the Five Books of the Torah, the Prophets and the Holy Writings (and the myriads of ways they can be approached), there can also be Mishna 'for Mishna's sake' (outside the subjects of Talmud). The study of Tamlud itself can and should be greatly reformed in yeshivas in my opinion. But there is also the evolution of and differing opinions within the philosophical and ethical works of the Medieval Jewish scholars and those who followed them. Let us not forget the all-important subject of halakha- it itself has an infinitude of different venues one can take in it's study; one can study only the Rambam or only the Shulhan Arukh, or the latter with emphasis on different commentators (Mishna b'rurah and Yalkut Yosef for example), or an emphasis on their Talmudic basis. And then there is a subject which most would not consider part of a yeshiva curriculum, but I do; the study and analysis of all the millenia that comprise 'Jewish History', and the many lessons we must learn from it.
And yet till today, even us, the descendants of the Sepharadim (as well as the descendants of the Ashkenazim) choose to mimic the faulty academic system that existed in Eastern Europe before the destruction of those communities during the Second World War, instead of following in the ways of the Jews of Moorish Spain, who had in their institutions of learning a refreshing synthesis of Talmud and ethics, halakha and poetry, prayer and meditation.
Secondly- I also believe that yeshivot are harming themselves by not introducing a full credit system. By credit system I mean of course gaining college credits that are fully acceptable in a normal university. Now, while that aspect of the credit system does already exist in many places, what I am suggesting is being graded for these points by tests, proving ones retaining of knowledge in these subjects. Now, while there are many disadvantages to the 'test system', and many academic advantages to the system currently in force in yeshivot, still feel that only through testing and accrediting would the students be fully interested in the subject matter, and would it become a real class.
Of course I am not suggesting that every 'shiur' must be graded. Just the opposite; it should be stressed that the study in yeshiva is quite different than that of the University. We believe that just the very action of studying religious subjects itself is the fulfillment of a religious duty. And with grading, students might overlook this religious aspect. But grading must be, for without it the subjects would never be retained, or taken seriously enough. And even if one fails, they have still fulfilled their duty.