Family better than boarding school
COLLEGE education, particularly in boarding schools, said the Holy Father, has come in for severe criticism. But even if supported by proved defects, the criticisms do not justify wholesale condemnation of the system.
" The family circle, as the nest built by nature itself, is certainly better adapted than any other to the assurance of a good and even perfect education, when it is helped by the Church and by the integrating function of the school.
" But frequently circumstances of place, of work, of individuals, prevent the family from fulfilling this difficult task by itself. In such cases the college becomes a providential institution without which many young people would he deprived of great benefits."
This does not free parents, however, from the duty of devoting themselves to their children, the Holy Father pointed out. Parental influence should be allowed to reach right into the college itself to help to integrate the work of formation. even though that work is going on far from under the parents' eyes.
Part-time Midway between education in the family circle and full-time education at boarding school, which, said the Pope, is necessarily imperfect. he commended the system in which pupils who are only part-time boarders secure the advantages ot family and boarding school at one and the same time.
College life, said the Holy Father, has its own advantages. He speaks in this connection of " the formation of the soul to a more serious awareness of duty, to
a sense of discipline and strictness, the formation of the habit of regulating one's own behaviour. the development of a sense of responsibility for one's actions.
"Al the college the young student has an opportunity to learn how to live in society, thanks to the variety of relationships he develops with his superiors, his fellow pupils and those who are under him, at least in age.
""rhus he is inspired to a healthy emulation, a right sense of honour, and the acceptance of the need for sacrifice. The possession of this gift from his tender years will certainly facilitate his entry into life, and sustain him when he has to confront the ups and downs of his particular station," But undoubtedly, the Pope pointed out, a communal life— away from natural surroundings and under rigid discipline which does not discriminate between one individual and another—presents its dangers.
" With the slightest error, you will have students who. far from being taught a sense of personal responsibility, arc carried along
i almost without realising it by mechanical behaviour to pure formalism in study, discipline and prayer.
" Strict uniformity tends to suffocate personal impulse, a secluded life to limit one's vision of the world. Inflexibility of government sometimes encourages hypocrisy or imposes a spiritual level which will he too low for some and unattainable for others."
These dangers must be modified by discernment. moderation and gentleness. Each individual student must be distinguished from his fellows.
Mass education costs less effort, but runs the risk of being useful to only some of the pupils, whereas all of them have the right to profit by it.
" They should he given individual consideration in the arrangement of their manner of life as well as in the correction and judging of them.
" In any case, one must avoid that excessively uniform community which sometimes puts hundreds of students, differing even in age, to studying, dining and playing in a single building with an overall government under a single rule."
One way out of this, the Holy Father said, is the method of dividing the pupils into homogeneous groups small enough for everyone to receive individual and paternal attention.
Each grouping will have its own chapel, its own rule and its own system. In this setting the normal pupil will accept the spiritual and moral values which his school offers him. with all the elements of right formation, but with a sense of getting a special and personal attention from his teachers.
He will not feel that he is being dealt with in the mass as though he were no more than a physical unit.
MODERATION, said the Holy Father, is a quality which must inspire every act of the teacher—
(Continued from page 1) whether he be establishing a rule or enforcing its observance. "An enlightened sense of discretion is necessary in determining the length of study time and of recreation, in the giving of prizes and punishments, in granting liberties and exacting discipline." This must apply. said the Holy Father, even to pious exercises so that they do not become " insupportable or tedious."
One sees pupils, even of Catholic colleges, where moderation is not taken into account, but which have seught to impose a tenor of religious practices not even suitable for young clerics, neglect, when they return to their families, the most elementary Christian duties, such as going to Mass on Sunday."
An aura of serene gentleness is the Holy Father's characteristic prescription for every college, though it must not be of a kind that undermines the forming of strength of character. " Young people," he said, " especially those of sound family, come to know a sense of duty by means of personal persuasion and with arguments of reason and affection. One who is persuaded by love of parents and superiors will not fail, sooner or later, to respond to their care. " Therefore the command which does not have or suggest some reasonable justification, a reproof which betrays personal rancour. and purely vindictive punishment must have no place at all in the school.
.,Gentleness must be abandoned only as a final resort, for a short time. and in exceptional cases.
.. It must preside over judgment and even overcome strict justice, because the soul of a youngster is hardly ever sufficiently mature to understand the evil of things completely, nor so set on his own path as to be unable to return to the good road as soon as he is shown to it."
Leading article : page 4
Delegates of the 21,000 Christian Brothers throughout the world will meet in Rome on May 9 to elect a new Superior General in succession to the late Brother Athanase Emile, who died in 1952. A Vicar-General and 12 assistant superiors general will also he chosen. The order was founder in Rheims by St. John Baptist de la Salle in 1680.