Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Politicised schooling

I'm back with a new Dell machine after my last laptop crashed out just after Christmas.
The present educational environment in the UK in very concerning and surely points Catholics towards creating a new environment for the education of their children. Indeed, there is so much change and manipulation in education today that this is not the era in which to be a pupil in a school in which the State has any control whatsoever! Our Government is doing by stealth what the Spanish Government recently did by law (Law of Historical Memory.)
Whilst the Government seeks ways of challenging and closing Catholic Schools because of their Faith; Catholic schools, by and large, are far more concerned about being winners in the community than being Centres of Faith. So much so is this the case that their prevailing ethos is Pelagianism not Catholicism (and Pelagianism is not at all at odds with British culture.)
State schools on the other hand are focussing more on their ethos and the development of the new secular orthodoxy, rather than being winners in the community. If I were a child now, I would not want to be in either a Catholic or a State school.
Eric Hester has recently reviewed Robert Whelan's new book The Corruption of the Curriculum, a book which expresses how Blair's proclamation "education, education, education" has in fact meant "politics, politics, politics", and that the curriculum is now subject to the tenets of feminism, gender discrimination, racism, environmentalism and homophobia. Independent schools, he points out, still constitute a real hope for they are mainly rejecting the new code. (One thinks also of the recent Australian initiative of Campion College - a Liberal Arts College on the outskirts of Sydney which teaches a secular curriculum from a genuine Catholic perspective.)
It is in such a climate that Catholic families should come together to discern how best to educate their children, how they can support one another, inform one another and develop new ways of creating an environment and a culture in which their children can be educated. I for one would help.

10 comments:

Fr John Speekman said...

Hey, Frs Richard and Julian, I think I will enjoy staying in touch with your blog. This article is very 'brave'. Do you find ticking parcels in your mail?

Fr Richard Aladics said...

No I don't Fr John; I have a new address so regularly that even the Feds are hard-pushed.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Sounds like essential reading for parents too..

bernadette said...

Cheap and regular flights to Nantes (Easyjet/Ryanair) from East Mids and Gatwick make Chavagnes International College a reasonable bet. Results not yet great, but under-pinning philosophy excellent. All under authority of local bish. Mostly English students. Ferdi McDermott, the head, tried for years to set one up in the UK along the lines you describe, Fr Richard, in the end he shipped out to France. Cheaper. We are thinking of doing the same. A number of our friends already have. www.Chavagnes.org

anne said...

maybe it's time catholic famillies gave serious thought to homeschooling. It's not that difficult.

Adam said...

Fr Aladics,
Have you read ‘Theology in the Public Square’ by Gavin D’Costa (Oxford, Blackwell, 2005)? While D’Costa (who writes from a postliberal perspective) makes a cogent argument for Catholic higher education in a modern, democratic, and secular society, I think some of his observations are pertinent to secondary education too. The arguments which he puts forward are intellectually sound, and it’s a pity they are not more widely heard.

I’m probably stating the obvious, that contrary to secularist prejudice, confessional schooling, at its best, is neither divisive nor sectarian, but I just don’t know how we can we engender a much needed public discussion about the place of Catholic education in a pluralist society when so many of those who govern us seem to be closed to reasoned debate.

I'm not entirely persuaded that homeschooling is the answer. For one thing, the government may legislate to prohibit it. My concern is that in withdrawing from the mainstream education system, Catholics would exclude themselves from the public square. While we still have a stake in this society of ours, we should fight for Catholic education. D’Costa would make an excellent chairman of the Catholic Education Service.

Adam said...

Incidentally, D'Costa teaches at the university of Bristol and is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

The forum for dialogue between the Church and culture: is it the school? I would say no, it's not the school, it's society. (cf. Spe Salvi) Catholic education should pave the way for a genuine dialogue, but our schools have become the battleground of this dialogue. This is wrong. The school is a place for nature and grace to work in tandem. Society is where the battle for truth and life used to take place. If we are making the school into the new frontier it is because society has disintegrated. Take children out of frontier-schools and create a place where they can be educated in order to build culture, society and civilisation.

mum6kids said...

I homeschool. This in no way prohibits my older children from engaging in the 'public square'. Why would it?
Certainly I think under this Govt there are moves to stop homeschooling-but while I can do it I will. Frankly, the standard of the NC is so low and the level of Catholic RE is so bad (+sex ed being inflicted on our kids) I wish I had always homeschooled.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

It sounds like "1984" is heading this way! What we need to build is a culture which is stronger in itself than that which the Government will seek to impose. Think of how Polish Catholics withstood the onslaught of Nazism and Marxism, and still remained Polish. Think of how Catholics under E1 stood strong against an opposing culture. Think of how Aidan, Paulinus, Cuthbert and Bede stood strong in the midst of the first Dark Age. One thing is for sure; today you need to have the "necessary critical apparatus".