Catholic Education?

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SOCIALIS Saturday is a weekend event where we discuss specific topics.

 

 

If we host a symposium at Ignitum Today about Catholic education, what issues would you like addressed?

 

Elementary education? University education? Interaction with the secular institutions? Courses? Seminaries?

 

What are your experiences with Catholic education?

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11 thoughts on “Catholic Education?”

  1. Avatar

    I would suggest a combination of college education and its interaction with secular institutions. How to strike that balance without “looking and behaving” as an extreme zealot. The tendency of our young adults is to hide their beliefs for the fear of being ridiculed.

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    I think the biggest problem with Catholic education (as seen in assosciation with one college in particular) is a tendency to be a bit cliquish. Ironically, this phrase comes from a Christendom College graduate, but the more “Catholic” the school the more it tends to attract “bomb-shelter kids”. These are kids who grew up with no exposure to the world, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but who now have no ability to deal with the temptations that come from the world. Parents expect the Catholic College because it is “Catholic” to continue doing what they did, i.e. control their kids’ exposure to the world and supervise their continued formation in the Faith. Unfortunately these “kids” are too often being trained to be kids their whole lives, instead of becoming adults. Either they willingly stick their heads in the sand to please their parents or they have an unhealthy fascination with the forbidden fruit of the world.

    This is a black and white picture, based on my friendship with a number of Christendom graduates, and I realize the reality is much more individual and complex. My point is that the goal of Catholic higher education should not be to enforce Catholic standards. In the late teens and early twenties it is already far too late for that. Instead, the goal should be to provide freedom and opportunities for the student to learn and grow, especially through experiences outside the little Catholic clique. This is the time when they need to be encouraged to go out and take classes in a secular environment, when they have the advantage of a home base to come back to for counsel or support when they get out of their depth. Now is the time when they should be working in soup kitchens or foreign missions, to get a little perspective on life. Their horizons shoul be broadening, not remaining the same. The goal of Catholic Liberal education is to enable the student to be liberated, free. Therefore they must be provided with freedom, even the freedom to make mistakes.

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    I’d like to see something on courses, particularly in the sciences. What makes a good course at a Catholic school for math and science? Having done all my education at secular universities, I’m curious as to what this looks like (particularly regarding the moral aspect) as done from elementary through college.

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    Catholic, yeah right!!!!!

    “My point is that the goal of Catholic higher education should not be to enforce Catholic standards”. Although this is somewhat of a ridiculous statement, dont worry Ryan and trust me they dont. I am of the firm opinion that Catholic Schools, as having taught in one of the “best” ones in the nation for 7 years, most specifically High Schools, in this country should be abolished and have all their assets seized for financial deception. They should then have all their property sold off for profit and given to the Church for better use. These are intitutions of greed, superficial and shallow in nature and grossly cater to, prefer, and cow-tow shamelessly to the rich, a far cry from the original “group of religious priests or nuns going into a poor community to teach them the faith” motif. They are a strange beauroratic/clerical hybrid sham that is about as spiritually engaging as your local wal-mart. The theology departments are often anti-catholic, usually filled with malcontented heretical ex-priests and ex-nuns. The worst kind of hypocritical disparity is evident as genuinely catholic students from families without money go to public schools and the rich, nominal catholics if that – whose parents are often slip-shod materialists, send their children to these schools really just for the catholic name and SAT scores for college entrance. It perpetuates the grossest form of a banal and worldly mentality and provides little more than the fodder for future hatred of the faith as the kiddies go off to college and become agnostics and snidely say “I went to a Catholic school”. The sex abuse scandal is little compared with the economic hammer that should be coming upon soon upon such widespread and disingenuous hypocrisy.

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    As someone who attended a Catholic college, and then worked as a teacher at a Catholic elementary,then attended a “Catholic” University for grad school (all with vastly different experiences) I’d be really interested in this topic.

    The “bomb-shelter” comment really struck me. I attended Mount St. Mary’s University in MD, and graduated recently (2006). While I was attending, the Mount was undergoing a transformation to connect more with it’s Catholic identity. So there were a fair number of “bomb-shelter” kids who were attending, but just as many, if not more, students who had attended public school or had mediocre Catholic education up to that point. It was a real melting pot. Along with daily Mass in three or four places (which was pretty well attended), there were raging parties like you’d expect at any college.

    I’d love to see/be a part of such a discussion!

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    Having been educated my whole life through Catholic schools, from a Catholic Montessori preschool to Catholic grade school to Jesuit high school to Dominican college and now searching for a Catholic grad school online, I would be very interested in this topic.
    I am the child of two Catholic elementary educators and husband of one. When my wife goes on maternity leave, I will be her long-term sub, teaching religion to grade-schoolers. The current school is in a small town, and the working-class parents are very committed to paying for Catholic education even though few can afford it. In contrast, my wife’s first school and both of my parents’ schools are for privileged students of wealthy parents, who expected to be able to impose on the teachers their ‘power of the purse’. They weren’t necessarily choosing a Catholic school for its faith as much as they were choosing an elite education.
    So the contrast between the two situations has become very apparent. I’ve also been involved in parish Religious Ed programs, and convincing parents to pay for education when they can send their kids to public schools for free is a tough sell, esp. when the religious ed programs are improving. I would like to see you explore this topic. Is Catholic education worth it? I don’t think CCD kids are as well-formed in the faith as their Catholic school counterparts. Am I right? Which is better? Schools used to rely on a salary-free staff of women religious, and now that laypeople run schools, they expect benefits and salaries that are competitive, so it costs more to run a school than it used to. Or has it? What is the future of the Catholic school and can we expect any of our institutions (schools, hospitals) to survive the coming persecution of homosexual lobbyists and euthanasia advocates?
    Basically, I’d be interested in anything you have to say on the subject of Catholic schools, but these are some of my ponderings.

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    @Allie:
    “I’d like to see something on courses, particularly in the sciences. What makes a good course at a Catholic school for math and science? Having done all my education at secular universities, I’m curious as to what this looks like (particularly regarding the moral aspect) as done from elementary through college.”

    Ditto. I’d add here that this becomes even more important for those of us who want to a) homeschool our children, and b) who may or may not end up in academia (am I right in assuming that you may fit one or both of these categories too?). This is the kind of project which I would in general be interested in if I had more time to devote to it, but it would be nice to see what some of the established programs at Catholic universities (and especially, at the more orthodox Catholic universities) do to cover math, physics, etc.

    I can point to a number of scattered resources, but not to any particular university department (I note with much chagrin that very few of the good Catholic colleges have a physics program of any sort), and in fact very few of these seem to be interested at all in science from an academic standpoint. But yes, I would be very interested in such a discussion.

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    This would be a very interesting topic. I attended a Catholic school for six weeks in high school before begging my parents to home school me. I’d like to know about other’s experiences. From everyone that I’ve met, including in college, if you didn’t attend school with them from K-up, you were not accepted as a peer. They also, where I went to school at least, were not at all interested in the Catholic faith. It was regularly referred to as “their parents religion”, and the teachers and students who were faithful were mocked. IT really was no different from a public school, except that I felt less accepted there than I ever did at any of the other 6 public schools I previously attended.

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    @Kayla–
    I only ever attended a Catholic elementary school (from grades 1-4), was also homeschooled (grades 5-8), and attended public school (8-12, and if you count secular universities, beyond). However, my brother attended Saint Edward’s University in Austin (as, for that matter, did our co-blogger Nathan Kennedy), and my observation of the folks there for the most part agrees with your observation at the Catholic High School. I know far more people who went into that university as Catholics and came out as something else than the other way around (though those who came out Catholics came out as pretty good ones!). On the other hand, I have also observed schools which are more “joyfully” Catholic–that is, for example, the impression I get overwhelmingly at the Catholic high schools in the Austin area (both of students and staff!), and in particular at the one with which I have interacted most (Saint Dominic Savio), though of course I haven’t been a student or staff member at any of these, so my impression is more-or-less from the outside looking in. I wonder how much of that is the actual material taught and how much is the attitude towards that material: we need both the good, faithful Catholic teaching AND the joyful, positive attitude towards that teaching to make a good school, methinks.

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    @JC Sanders

    Ditto. I’d add here that this becomes even more important for those of us who want to a) homeschool our children, and b) who may or may not end up in academia (am I right in assuming that you may fit one or both of these categories too?). This is the kind of project which I would in general be interested in if I had more time to devote to it, but it would be nice to see what some of the established programs at Catholic universities (and especially, at the more orthodox Catholic universities) do to cover math, physics, etc.

    Yes, as someone who does want to end up in academia (likely at a secular school, although I would welcome a Catholic one if I could find a fit), and possibly homeschool her (eventual) children, I fall in both categories.

    It just seems to me that the few people I have met in CS at conferences who are teaching at small Catholic universities, well, they’re not Catholic, and one even openly mocked the faith of her institution she was employed at. It seems to me that the point of a Catholic institution is to imbue everything we do with Christ. Given that I hope to eventually be teaching computer science, I’m curious as to how they plays out in the classroom.

    And if I don’t make it to that teaching goal, I’d like to consider homeschooling. What does it mean to teach math and science from this perspective? I have some good guesses for science, but for math, all I can come up with are historical topics. I’m wondering if there’s something more.

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