Judith Dunlap, When You Teach in a Catholic School(2004) states that yes, religion is taught but faith is caught by being around people who are confident and willing to share their faith. We can touch the heart through rituals, by creating an influential environment and again, by being a personal witness. Rituals bring people together; they teach us there are certain ways to do things, they make us feel good as well as give vitality to the people involved. We can grow as faith community by starting (and maintaining) a ritual; it can include words, actions, symbols and/or music. The environment in any room, not just the religion class, can also influence faith by creating a feeling of peace and welcome through the use of lights, pictures, music, rugs, and/or plants by tapping into our senses. Last, personal witness isn’t just limited to staff in the school. We must remember to include and invite other witnesses like parents, community members, elders, priests, etc. to help our youth grow by sharing their story.
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
Think of events that will happen in your school this month. Are there people that can be invited in to help celebrate these events and share their story?
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?
The fundamental source of human knowledge is encounter with the world and its history through experience. The guiding intent for the curriculum is to educate people to become fully alive and free human beings. In a Catholic context this source and this guiding intent both point to the experience of the community, an experience where Jesus Christ is encountered and the values of the Reign of God direct human action and being. Simply put, we learn through life.
Catholic education brings a focus to learning to discover, evaluate, interpret the human experience, which is always in transition, in ways that enhance and deepen appreciation for the gift of creation and provide insight into how learning can lead to fullness and freedom for all people.
Strategies to develop a respect for the life-giving dimensions of tradition:
- Provide access to the tradition of human culture–works of art, literature, etc.–as a way of engaging learners in conversation with the past
- Invite learners to bring the symbols and artifacts of tradition into their own lives with a questioning and interpreting attitude
- Invite learners to come to know for themselves the wisdom, knowledge, or beauty, of the tradition
- Allow for the occasion for moral discourse and provide access to models of responding to the moral questions raised by the study of the past
- Invite learners into a critical assessment of experience so they may discern what is life-giving and life-enhancing
- Celebrate the hope that comes with recognizing God’s continuing action in the life of the community
How can tradition be life-giving in Catholic education?
Read Gal 3:26-28
God loves me with an unconditional love. Name some of the ways I love who I am.
What can we do together to create a greater sense of unity and acceptance among us?