The Catholic Church has been doing education well for centuries. I strongly adhere to the idea of forming the whole person—intellectually, physically, emotionally, and of course, spiritually. This is best accomplished when an atmosphere of learning is carefully nurtured for the particular needs of the school community. This will vary depending upon the ages of students, existing structures in place, the competence and quality of teachers, and the roles of influence of other leaders in the school including clergy, religious, counselors, coaches, and extracurricular staffers and volunteers. Obviously, the role of parents is the first and key ingredient of success that cannot be overemphasized.
I read a list of someone else’s educational philosophy many years ago and adopted much of it for my own.
- Students need to learn. This includes learning about God and coming to know God. As St. Augustine pointed out, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
- Students need to be active participants in learning. This is not a spectator sport.
- Student-centered and student-directed learning involves the whole person. Hands-on!
- Students need structure to learn. Subsequently, teachers need solid classroom management skills.
- Students need information and knowledge along with the necessary skills, tools, and other resources to effectively apply that knowledge.
- Students need feedback in a timely manner to grow and improve.
Catholic schools have a tremendous advantage in developing an atmosphere for learning because of the treasures of the Church such as the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Furthermore, the sacramental life of the Church reminds us that this is about something much greater than simply being successful in academics and worldly pursuits. We are called to faithfulness. We are called to holiness.
Our Catholic schools must remain focused on proclaiming the Good News of Salvation and inspiring people to seek sanctity if they are to serve the purpose for which they exist. Then, we are not just celebrating Catholic schools for a week, but for eternity!
Have a great Catholic Schools Week!