Sunday, September 23, 2012

Educating for Happiness

Catholic education in many parts of the world means little; for  the Catholic element is seen as peripheral to the educational process. This is not the case in Korea. Pope Benedict said in regard to education: "Are we ready to commit our entire self--intellect and will, mind and heart--to God? Do we accept the truth Christ reveals? Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools? Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God's creation? Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold." These words and similar words addressed to educators by the Church are taken seriously in Korea.

Both Catholic papers introduce us to the new president of Sangji, a two and four year technical school in the Andong Diocese.  One of the first Catholic technical schools in Korea, it was founded by three Luxembourgian nuns of the order Soeurs de la Doctrine Chrétienne.

The purpose of the school is to educate students for  an occupation. This choice will help them find  happiness in the life which will soon be known, some believe, as 'Homo-Hundred'. Until 1990, there was no country where the average lifespan exceeded 80 years. Since then, six nations, including Japan, Italy and Australia, have exceeded this average lifespan, and in 2020 it will be over 30, including Korea.

The president of Sangji says the school will be 'teaching for happiness'. Striving to be number one is not what the school is all about, he said, but to form students who will be happy in life. Those that find the present emphasis on competition foreign to their way of thinking, he recommends their going to the Sangji Technical School. They will find there, he said, a different kind of competition. Too many students, in the usual school environment, have to deal with stress and Sangji is forming students for a different goal.

They present their students with small goals which, when achieved systematically, will give them the courage and the ability to dream and go on for loftier goals.

All students during a semester have to  spend 40 hours in service to others. Mass is offered daily at the school, and 30 religious sisters are there to guide the students, giving the school a Catholic atmosphere. Technical knowledge is imparted but combined with the holistic formation of the person.

Over 80 percent of their graduates have  found work after graduation, and the school is aiming still higher.This emphasis on something else besides marks and success is a welcomed relief. Parents should be thankful that such schools as Sangji exist, providing them with the opportunity to send their children to a school where educating the whole person is the top priority.

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