Page 2, 11th September 1942

11th September 1942
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Page 2, 11th September 1942 — CATHOLICS AND EDUCATION The Position Reviewed
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Locations: London, Liverpool, Surrey

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CATHOLICS AND EDUCATION The Position Reviewed

Sia,—Home truths are never relished. We are all touchy when our failings are pointed out, especially in a downright manner. Collectively, as Catholics, we mirror our individual human natures in this respect ; therefore, a true examination of conscience is doubly difficult. We have lately been given the chance to ace ourselves as others see us—and the " othcrs" arc often at most indifferent to the Church, and certainly not necessarily hostile to it. During the past month or two the Association of EduGallon Ceemmittees, the Workers' Educational Association, the Trades Union Congress, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Patty (to mention ito others), have issued memoranda on education which leave almost out of consideration the continuance of Catholic and voluntary schools as such; if they do specially, consider the positien, it is more often than not to deprecate the continuance of any other than uniform council schools.

Therefore, in examining our own position, we should do well to be guided by the advice given to me by a Catholic Archbishop apropos of the Spanish trouble. When there is widespread indifference arid hostility to the Church, we should (he said) examine why these people have nursed a just or exaggerated grievance against us. There is always something at the bottom of it. In our examination of conscience we only too often need a strenuous Devil's Advocate. If we imagine that by unrelieved self-justification we are 'being either fair or far-sighted, we grievously err. Our enemies and ignorers are not to he convinced either by the indignation of those who last week were mettlesome enough (thank God) to cry Out against what they considered to be unjust criticism, or by those who were content to quote instances of schools which did happen to be doing their job well.

The opposition to our Catholic educationul liberties is wider and deeper than that. I too could quote the school I first attended—staffed entirely by women (not all too highly qualified) in a condemned building—a school to which I owe an immeasurable debt. Yet Olio does not keep me from knowing with education experts that this training is far from ideal, and that schools should not be allowed to continue in such a state. These women's excellent qualities would certainly have been used to better advantage if, after better training, they had developed in better conditions. It is not enough merely to quote instances of quality shining through difficulties and lack of training. We arc faced. as Catholics have told us no less than non-Catholics, with a great deal of what is makeshift and secondoate in our Catholic educational system. We have a very questionable system of appointment, which Catholics in Scotland and the free Netherlands were not sorry to see discontinued. And, as no official guidance was forthcoming, unofficial Catholics have had to put forward their own views. Criticism was expected. If I for one had really erred, I should have been glad in the name of truth to be proved wrong. But it is gratifying to note that on September 4 it was announced that the Hierarchy were to be asked by the Catholic Education Council to admit concessions which certainly embodied proposals consistently made by myself in THE CATHOLIC HERALD since the start of the controversy, and which have earned the expressed approval of teachers everywhere, especially in the North.

useI am convinced that no good is to be expected from a battle of instances, I should like to suggest that, at a time when educational and general Opinion is so much opposed to the continuance as at present of the Dual System, the opinion of every Catholic teacher qualified either by training or experience should be solicited. They should be asked to state (no names, no reprisals) their age, experience and frank opinion on such proposals as I and others have made for the rejuvenation and revitalising of Catholic education. Catholic teachers do not want to teach the Hierarchy their job, whicheds the safeguarding of Christian doctrine, the sacramental system, and the ministry to the faithful ; htit Catholic teachers could well he of real use to our spiritual directors in the practical work of educating, and in the direction of our educational policy to the needs of our times. Further, a truer realisation of the needs of the working-man no less than the educational enthusiast would .he the result of a teachers' council or plebiscite, and more " pep " anti a greater sense of urgency and opportunity would be forthcoming. It is only too indicative of the scandalising dilatoriness of many Catholic educationists that, in the face of constant criticism for well over a year and of official Government requests for a statement of policy, we had to wait until last week for anything like an official Catholic line to follow—and that only a publication of the decisions of a conference held as long ago as April 15.

I seem, Sir, to have been made a scapegoat by those whose determined conservatism seems to belong to the group styled by Mr. A. C. I. Beales " last-ditchers," I am no opponent of religious education; God forbid! But I do want a Nazarene Catholicism, and 1 do want a first-rate secular education and every social advantage for every Catholic child. Only the best is good enough, and in my opinion the only way is to follow proposals which I have either made or repeated. Only my criticisms have beers criticised; my positive policy is, I believe, that of young Catholicism generally. I should look forward with pleasure to a vote upon it by every Catholic teacher in a

secret ballot exhaustively undertaken by the Hierarchy, and I should be only too glad to recant and withdraw my pro posals if enjoined to do so by the fairly canvassed opinion of those Catholic

teachers whom I have been so falsely accused of maligning. I have never failed to plead for greater recognition

of the value of the lay teachers and the average lay Catholic to the salvation of the Church in this country and every

where. The Popes are with me there.

But by unreflecting defence of what is imperfect amongst ourselves or our spiritual directors, we are turning our backs on commonsense and earning the contumely and despite of the increasing armies of Materialism.

E. 3. KING.

31, London Road, Ewell, Surrey.

Liverpool Schools

silt," am one of Liverpool's religiops examiners and chaplains to the teachers of Liverpool Archdiocese.

I write emphatically to state that the standard of religious knowledge in the Liverpool schools is extraordinarily high. The children receive a thorough training in knowledge and piety. Results reflect the highest credit on the industry and efficiency of our teachers. 1 don't know even one elementary school where the standard of religious knowledge is very low.

As Chaplain, I have worked in close

Contact with Liverpool teachers for over ten years. I have always been profoundly edified by their Apostolic zeal, their deep sense of their high vocation, their efficiency and self-sacrifice in discharge of their slaty, their obedience to, and respect for, authority. His Grace. our Archbishop, only a few years ago, wrote: " No one has ever yet ventured to bring against them the charge of inefficiency."

Nowhere in the Catholic world can you find more competent or devoted teachers. Their heroism under the trials of evacuation, when they were parents, priests and teachers to our little children, is worthy to be recorded in letters of gold : it is written indelibly in thousands of grateful hearts: it is written for ever in the Book of Life.

Your critics amaze me. One of them seems so very concerned to prove on a priori arguments, that Catholic teachers must necessarily be inefficient ; another appears to be eatisfied that he has proved the most scathing charges against our Catholic teachers merely by asserting and reasserting them. Mere assertion is not proof.

It is difficult to account for the acerbity of some of these critics of our teachers. Mgr. Knox has a theory that " there is a kind of suppressed jaundice which leaves no mark upon the exterior pigment of the body—but which works its ravages in the mind." This " suppressed jaundice" produces " a habit of grousing, and wanting to sack the lot, and putting the worst construction on everything."

His Grace thy Archbishop of Liverpool truly describes certain " ill-man

nered attacks " on our religion and our' schools, as " the misadventures of mediocrities amongst masterpieces."

Jemes J. Gems? (Rev.) 2a, Albert Road, Birkdale, Lancs.

Training of Teachers

SIR.-1 am surprised to find that anyone so discerning as Mr. King could have failed to note the reflections that have been made in THE CATHOLIC HERALD On the training of Catholic teachers. They are there in plain print for him to see. Mr. King is wrong in imputing to me any intention of drawing It comparison between the training in this college and that in non-Catholic colleges. Nothing was further from my mind ; and there is nothing in my letter to give the slightest indication of such an intention. I am fully aware of the excellence of their work. My letter was a statement of fact the object of which wits to show, by implication, that the Catholic men teachers in elementary schools, the majority of whom are old Simmarians, are neither badly trained nor inefficient. I trust that no one except Mr. King will look upon a mere statement of fact as an eulogy of this college ; it was never intended to be such. As for my allusion to the Board of Education's practice of examining all teachers during their probationary period, I think that a more charitable and a more usehil inference than Mr. King's. could be drawn front it. One is a little inclined to feel that Mr. King has an axe to grind, and that he does not wish to hear anything good of Catholic teachers and Catholic schools.

If Mr. King has grievances against

Catholic schools, he is perfectly right to give them publicity. But generalisations in a serious matter of this kind and at such a time must be supported by first-hand evidence. How many uncertificated teachers, for instance, are employed in Catholic eleruentary schools? Is not their appointment the responsibility of the local education authority? Actually I only know of one such teacher in six Catholic elementary schools. Again, what was the standard of proficiency accepted after the last war'? I am acquainted with two men who were trained immediately after demobilisation ; but I am afraid that they do not provide good material for Mr. King's thesis. They are both headmasters; and one possesses the B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees of London University obtained after leaving college. Mr. King's supposition as regards the appointment of teachers in Catholic schools is interesting. But can he give evidence that the merits and suitability of candidates for appointment are not sufficiently taken into account? Personally, I have heard of such cases, but, though my sympathy as a layman is heavily on the side of the lay, &licher, I cannot honestly say that I ever had any definite proof of it. Mr. King raises a very important issue its advocating an extended course of training for teachers ; it involves problems of time, expenditure arid a lot of other things. But it is a matter well worthy of discussion at another time. At the moment it' is something of a red herring.

I do not -understand why Mr. King should say that Catholic education meets with general disapproval. If that is the case, whw do so many nonCatholics send thne children to Catholic schools? That those hostile to the Church will disapprove of it in any

circumstances I can fully appreciate

But those " really well-disposed to the Church," to quote Mr. King's words, ought to assure themselves that they are not merely finding Catholic educa

tion as good as anything else to grumble about.

P. J. DOWLING.

St. Mary's College.

Strawberry Hill, Middlesex.

Examination Results?

Sue—Regarding the interestingaiiscussion about education—are there no examination records for the country as a whole by which it would be possible to test the achievement of Catholic as compared with non-Catholic schools? The present correspondence seems to be getting nowhere.

My own *ling is that ." education" for everyone is largely waste of time. More than half the people 1 know'seem to me to have got less than nothing from most of the time they spent at school and college. Plato and Shakespeare and many other writers Of the same sort might he quite popular reading among ordinary people if they had not been taught them at school. It took me a long time to recover from the dislike I acquired during the course of my " education " even of writers so entertaining as Lamb and Jane Austen.

J. S.

Religious Teachers SIR,—Mr. King's letter of August 21 is certainly open, frank and fairly just. There is one point where justice fails— all headships to be lay.

Would he not allow the members of religious communities to work their way to promotion? Their only fault seems to be that they have adopted the true communistic life, of which socalled Communism is mortally afraid.

(Mits.) A. TfGHE.

4, Williems Terrace, Bethesda. North Wales.




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