Friday, May 23, 2014

Education for the Whole Person

In recent years, education and the philosophy on which it should be grounded has been discussed repeatedly. The Catholic Church has shown a great interest in the need for a new pattern in educating our children, and has begun this in many of its institutions. The results of our present educational programs have educated for the society in which we live: education to get ahead, get a good job and make a lot of money. However, this has to be for a select few, and the many others are left with a feeling of being losers, and many of those who succeed lack the humanity we need in a happy and mature society.                  

A priest, in the diocesan bulletin, writes about the need to revamp the way we teach catechism to our children. The problems in our Sunday School programs are not what  we see in the secondary educational system, but their problems are influencing the way the parents and children see religious education. Most of the students in the 12 years of primary and secondary education have not read the complete Bible. Do they really have a Catholic world view, Catholic values? In his opinion, there are very few. And bluntly states that it has been a repetition of what they learned in preparation for First Communion. The Reading of the Bible is not of course all that is necessary for a Catholic, but with a program in our catechism classes, he stresses, that doesn't have this  goal is missing something important.

This may have been the unexpressed  goal for decades in the teaching of our children, and yet we have failed. He puts the blame on the  lack of vision
by those involved in the education of the children: parents, teachers and clergy.

He feels that the parents do not see the need for a holistic approach to education, and do not consider the teaching of the catechism as equal to what they are getting in their educational programs in schools. He mentions 'The Duke of Edinburgh's Award' program. He feels that some of these principles should find a place in our catechism programs: non-competitive,  available to all, voluntary, flexibility,  balanced programs, progression, record of achievement, value of progress, marathon not a sprint and enjoyable.

Parents have to see a need for the education of the whole person and not see education as a means of succeeding in society. This is a big order and the reason why a change in our catechism programs will not be successful until parents see education in a new way. Holistic Education is of the head, the heart and the body. Nature, community and humanitarian values are important. However, in the society that we have made parents will see this approach as beautiful and noble, but not what the  competitive society that we have made wants or needs. Consequently, parents will continue to feel without the academic rigor their  children will not find employment and have a hard time adjusting to our society. That is the dilemma of parents: to educate for happiness or for worldly success. A hard decision to make, but shouldn't be for a Christian.

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