Not an option, justice is a mandate of Catholic faith. From the beginning, the educational mission of the church has been seem as participation in God’s saving mission. The divine edict of justice requires education for personal and social transformation.
The Catholic school, since it is motivated by the gospel message of Jesus Christ to proclaim liberty to the oppressed, is particularly sensitive to the call from every part of the world for a more just society, and it tries to make its own contribution towards it. It does not stop at the courageous teaching of the demands into practice, first in its own community in the daily life of the school, and then in the wider community.
Catholic schools aim towards a synthesis of faith and culture, of faith and life, syntheses that characterize mature faith. A mature faith will be able to recognize and reject cultural counter-values which threaten human dignity and are therefore contrary to the gospel.
Although all the problems of religion and faith will not be completely solved by academic studies, nevertheless, the Catholic school should be a privileged place for finding adequate ways to deal with these problems.
Strategies to incorporate the Justice Dimension of Catholic schools:
Catholicism is not simply a system of beliefs; it is also a life to be lived: a life of worship, shaped by the Eucharist and the other sacraments, and a life of moral commitment and behaviour, shaped by moral values rooted in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools foster this way of life grounded in the love of God and values of the Reign of God proclaimed in the gospels.
Spirituality in Catholic schools consists in letting God be present in each moment of the day, becoming attuned to God”s presence in the ups and downs of the life journey of the school community. Prayer and a commitment to the moral and ethical values of the gospel provide the opening to God’s presence. The Catholic school, therefore, is a place of prayer, a place where the principals of Christian morality find expression in the interactions that take place there.
Catholic schools invite all members of the learning community into that place of prayer and moral living by modelling a prayer life in the school and by providing a learning environment characterized by relationships that are caring and nurturing.
Strategies for nurturing Spirituality in Catholic Schools:
- Make resources for spirituality available to all members of the community
- Provide opportunities for retreat and reflection days
- Participate in faith development activities
- Structure prayer into the life of the school on a daily basis
- Celebrate Catholic identity through prayer, liturgy, and worship
- Celebrate school events, the various passages and seasons of the year with religious rituals
- Celebrate school patron saints, school feasts
How do Catholic schools integrate spirituality into the learning environment?
The real subjects in Catholic education are the learners in the sense that wisdom requires that the learners be the primary agents of their own learning. Learners are invited to see for themselves: to be active agents of their learning rather than passive recipients of knowledge.
Learners are encouraged to use their whole minds in the pursuit of learning – their reason, memory, and imagination. And because learning proceeds from what is known to the unknown, learner’s own lefe experiences become the building blocks to new learning. An attitude of openess to the truth requires that practices of exclusion – such as racism and sexism – be absent from the learning environment. Wisdom is the antithesis of injustice. Such openness also welcomes everyone into the learning process. Everyone’s voice can be heard in the learning environment just as everyone has the opportunity to learn.
Strategies to engage Reason and Rationality in Catholic Schools:
- Encourage social analysis: the context of learnings gives meaning to the content; cultural contexts and worldviews are open to question; other perspectives can be viewed
- Promote responsibility and commitment: take learners beyond their own knowledge; discover how knowledge can be life-giving
- Sensitize learning: investigate whose interests are served by what we learn; relate learning to the Reign of God
- Encourage relational learning: allow for different styles of learning; collaborative; cooperative learning
- Foster the professional development of teachers in the study of theology and religious education
- Assess student learning in the religious dimension based on the cognitive understanding of faith integration into all subject areas
- Celebrate academic achievement
How can Catholic educators educate for wisdom?