Page 6, 14th June 1968

14th June 1968
Page 6
Page 6, 14th June 1968 — CATHOLIC EDUCATION TODAY By MICHAEL COCKE'TT • Catholic Education in

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a Secular Society ed Bernard Tucker (Sheed and Ward 32s. 6d.). "There is a, growing minority in the Church which finds the common Catholic position on education questionable." This comment is among the opening remarks in the introduction to a book which sets out clearly and unemotionally some of the reasons why we cannot be satisfied with our present policy and suggests guide lines for an alternative.

The clearest proposals are made by Mother Mary Norbert Berridge in her essay "Integration and Commitment." She argues that it is at the primary stage "that children form a solid basis of Catholic beliefs, attitudes and values." She supports therefore the present policy for this age group. For adolescents however she suggests that as they must come to grips with the real adult situation then they could be most effectively educated in a school which reflects the pluralistic nature of our society. Her views are offered "for criticism and evaluation." She is not demanding an overnight change but she speaks a good deal of common sense which cannot be easily ignored.

Under the title "Has Education an Aim?" Richard Pring says, "Authority has necessarily been debunked as a criterion of truth and falsity, right and wrong." He is not rejecting authority. He is observing its limitations. He rightly concludes that such an

■IIIIIMEN■■■••■■■■•111•1•1=1•111■1, idea must have a radical effect on our teaching. How often do we defend our point of view by saying "that is what the Church teaches," as though that made it more true?

The essay strikes deeper than that. He suggests that in fact there is no discoverable aim of education. There is no blueprint of education on Which to pin our faith. Education is the process of becoming aware of the world and the human situation within the world. As such it has no aim beyond itself. Perhaps such a startling conclusion will encourage a reading of this most important but complex chapter.

The truth is a dangerous commodity. It is not simply apprehended by the intellect, It is an experience which can alter the direction of your life. So Rosemary Haughton under the heading "Christian Education" when discussing non streaming says "the usual objection to this is that to allow the clever children to spend time helping the slow ones will hold back the clever ones. The only answer to this is that it isn't true." She is not saying we can prove absolutely with overwhelming statistical evidence that in all cases non streaming will work. She is saying that when teachers are moved by the truth of the matter, when they have the courage and faith to be true to their own experiences, then they will work with non stream classes and find that non streamed classes work.

I have described only a little of this book, picking here and there from some of the essays. I hope I have given the impression that it made vital and thought provoking reading. It is, as Bernard Tucker points out in his introduction, a sort of minority report. This minority deserves to be heard by parents and teachers and those who form our educational policy--minorities sometimes contain the truth.

10 introduction to Catechetics Fr P. De Rosa, Editor (Geoffrey Chapman 12s, 6d.). The basis of modern catechectics set down simply and without the jargon. There are brief theological and scriptural introductions from Fr. De Rosa and Fr. Richards and then a series of essays ranging from "Religion and the Child" to "A Creative Approach to Teaching Aids." These essays are by experts in their various fields and the wealth of practical examples and sound advice will be of great assistance to those who are still confused by the new movements in religious education.

▪ Friendship from a series

directed by Pierre Babin titled "Faith in the World" (Burns and Oates teacher's book 15s., pupils' work book 7s. 6d.). The teacher's book contains useful background information and the pupils' work book (much too expensive) conthins extracts from literature, questionnaires and essay and discussion topics. The scheme aims at bringing children face to face with the reality of their own relationships. It is a great improvement on other text books that have been produced for this age group. Because it is so much better it is also more dangerous. Adolescent relationships should not be tampered with by the insensitive.

A book can never be a substitute for the relationship between pupils and teacher. The relationship we form is the only real thing we teach. This scheme arose out of the relationship between particular teachers and particular pupils in America, And that is its strength and its weakness.

• Come to Me, I am the Way and Love One Another by Mother Simon (Surdaw Publications 3s. 6d. each). A series of books designed to help parents prepare their children for first Holy Communion. They contain a leaflet with notes for parents. The text is simple and the print large enough for the children to read for themselves (though they should not become simply reading books). Occasionally the text jars a little. I think the word love is used too easily of posy, unruffled situations. I am sure, however, that these books will be a great help to pareats.

• Luke's Good News of Jesus by Rosemary Naughton (St. Paul Editions 7s, 6d.). A book that may well be used in the home with the previous ones. A simple text and unsentimental illustrations by the nuns of Cockfosters. I think there are better examples of books of this type available but this edition will appeal to many.

• Biblical Themes and Claw room Celebrations by Cinette Ferriere (Geoffrey Chapman 35s.) Translations of a text book requires more than a simple translation of the language. In France this excessively systematised approach may be very effective. It is hardly suitable here. Hard pressed Sunday school teachers may have to rely on something like this but it is not a practice to be encouraged. The book develops a large number of themes for use with Upper Juniors. The themes follow the progress of the

liturgical year and each theme culminates in a classroom celebration. All this is described in depressing detail. In general about as creative as long division.

• Forming the Faith of Adolescents by Fr. Jacques Audinet (Geoffrey Chapman, 10s. 6d.). This is the latest of a line of books translated from the French dealing with catechetics. It suffers from its basic Frenchness since the style of French education differs considerably from the English. It discusses three different basic approaches in terms of their suitability for various ages, the attractiveness and honesty of the presentation and the clarity of the outcome. The three approaches he titles "the rational", the "appeal to values" and the "meaning of the situation".

find the actual description of method of little use. The situations have been analysed to Luch an extent that they cease to exist as in any recognisable form. The fact that Fr. Audinet is aware of this fundamental artificiality in his division of approaches does not solve his difficulties. In the name of logic he has desuoyed the reality.

However the book ia well worth reading on an entirely different level. The description of each method is followed by a discussion of the advantages and the dangers of each approach and it is here, in spite of the rather sentimental flourishes, that Fr. Audinet demonstrates his real grasp of the problem and his respect for the pupils he teaches.

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