Friday, 27 November 2015

Catholic Education. Is it stupid?


I read with interest an article in today's "Telegraph" newspaper, written from an atheist's point of view about religious education. It caught my eye as Jemima Lewis' views on the subject seemed to reflect my own thoughts on the matter:
The very fact of treating religion as an academic subject, no more or less sacred than English Literature, encouraged scepticism. The Old Testament was just another text to be analysed and considered within its historical context – no more likely to contain any definitive truth than, say, Wuthering Heights.
I have long thought that while Catholic schools should teach about other religions as a matter of practical knowledge to help understand the world around us, education about our own Faith should be completely separate from this - that is, we should teach other religions under the title of "religious eduction" but our own Faith under the title of "religious instruction".  

We could teach about the Bible in English Literature but it might encourage us to think of it not as the Word of God but as interesting and possibly helpful - but only in the way that reading Dostoevsky teaches us to reflect on the world around us. That is the point that this atheist lady makes - the difference being that she thinks that's a good way to teach Christianity and I don't - for the same reasons she gives, that it actually undermines faith. This methodology seems to be exactly what our Catholic schools have been doing for quite some time now with the effects that can be lauded by atheists but lamented by those who still believe. Most people would call that stupid - and yes, leading to damnation: something about teaching others and being the least in the kingdom of heaven.

Time for a change when atheists think we're doing a good job of undermining belief?
I wouldn't recommend holding your breath!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Father,

I sent both of my sons to Catholic primary and secondary schools and was also a governor at one of them for 10 years. If I had my time again they would have gone to secular schools as the amount of teaching on and about the Faith is/was pitiful. The number of trips to ski, amusement parks and proms are manifold the trips to Rome or Lourdes, zero. Just one measure.

Abolish the Catholic school system as it is expensive and ineffective, it leads parents to think their children will be taught the Faith - the teachers need instrution first!

God Bless,

Patrick.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

I agree your point of view, Father. The sad thing is, not only do Catholic schools (the ones I know), teach Christianity/Catholicism badly; but the overall behaviour of some school(s) is in itself far from Christian. What an example for youngsters to emulate/avoid.

God bless you.

David O'Neill said...

Until we have only PRACTISING Catholic teachers in our schools we will have (at best) mediocre Religious Instruction. And I mean PRACTISING CATHOLIC teachers not nominal Catholics!!

Chloe said...

A relative of mine was head of RE at a 'Catholic' school down south. He is an atheist living in sin with his girlfriend and their two children. He said this was 'not a problem'. His opinion. Not one that could be held by any truly Catholic parent. Fortunately he now teaches elsewhere, though I doubt if he's been replaced by anyone better. Please pray for him. He hasn't a clue.

le Despenser said...

Is Catholic education possible?

Jacobi said...

Pre-Vatican II we did Religious Knowledge, that is what the Catholic Faith is, and Apologetics, that is why other religions from Buddhism to Lutherism are wrong and how to make that clear to them should we ever come across them.

The quicker we get back to that the better. In the meantime, we are wasting our time and endangering souls, including Buddhist and Lutheran souls.

Mark Lambert said...

You are precisely correct in your assessment here Father. Although I think there are a few Catholic Schools still doing a decent job, the majority are not. I've just finished a four year stint as a foundation governor in ours; it is a disgrace and positively working to undermine any Catholic faith the children enter the school with. Faithful Catholics are undermined, isolated and ridiculed. They are attacked for holding 'unreasonable' positions. It truly is monstrous. It strikes me from experience, that a huge dimension to the problem is a failure to nurture Catholic leaders, and a lack of Catholicity in our teacher training colleges.

colin fnolan said...

All my 4 children were educated at Catholic schools in Preston; they really enjoyed their time there and have gone on to achieve great things. One is a GP in London and another is a Professor of Neuroscience in Edinburgh. BUT not one of them has entered a Catholic church in the past 20 years.

This is the problem. We live in a society that is totally secular where even admitting to a religious thought is enough to get you ostracised.

The solution? I can't see one. Moaning about things get you nowhere, but what goes around comes around so maybe the future may give us an answer.