The Lure Of Summer Schools
By PHILIP MURRAY HE summer holiday of the average worker is a precious week or fortnight, long looked forward to and planned so that the maximum benefit will be derived from it.
Yet there are many who do not know the rich benefits that can be gained from attendance at a Summer School. They do not know simply because they have not attended one.
Holiday time should be a time of recreation, of the mind as well as of the body.
To try to learn by reading is like attempting to discover the wonders of man and the universe equipped only with a pair of darkcoloured spectacles. Man is a social animal and is also endowed with five senses. " Nothing is in the mind which was not first in the senses." Yet the reader is often inclined to go about alone and use only one of his senses. Hearing the spoken word conveys subtle nuances which the written word cannot do, and is a valuable supplement to reading.
The chief advantage of a Summer School is that the reading student meets and hears the men who write the books. The result is often a disillusionment, but it sends the reader back to his books with clearer insight into the meaning of the printed word and less liable to take it at its face value.
There is also the contact with the various classes of people interested in the same subjects. This leads to discussion and discussion forces people to think.
No Lack of Subjects Many Summer Schools are held under the auspices of the Universities and conducted by University professors and tutors. For the ambitious student a summer school is often the gateway to an adult scholarship to one of the Universities.
There is no lack of subjects: Economics, Economic History, Literature, Music, Psychology, Biology, International Relations, Public Administration, Science and Philosophy.
Of particular interest to Catholics as such are those Summer Schools held at Oxford and Cambridge. The Summer School of Catholic Studies has been held at Cambridge for many years and students have heard and talked with the highest authorities on subjects of vital importance to all. A particular subject is dealt with each year. Mere mention of some of them—" God," " Man," " The Papacy," " Moral Principles and Practice "—gives only a slight indication of the riches in store for those who would attend such conferences, but it gives some idea of the wide and interesting range of subjects. They are treated under all aspects, historical, doctrinal, controversial, philosophical, each by eminent specialists on the particular aspects of the subjects.
At Oxford is held the Society of St. Gregory's Summer School. To spread the knowledge of the liturgy of the Church is its special work. It is carrying out the express wish of the Holy Father. The Archbishop in a message to the president of the society said: " It is greatly to be desired that all our Catholic people should join with the priest in the Liturgy of the Church and particularly in the active and corporate offering of the Mass. I hope the Society of St. Gregory will make this valuable work for religion its special task." It does! At the Summer School lectures are given in rhythm, interpretation and accompaniment of the Chant. Masses, Compline and Vespers are sung in the churches of Oxford. Cordial relations exist between the Society of St. Gregory's School and that of the Catholic Social Guild whose Summer School is held during the same period.
C.S.G. Summer School
The Social Question has been a burning one for many years, yet many good Catholics are woefully ignorant concerning the Catholic principles which should be our guide in its elucidation.
Happily, the letter goes on to say: " Here in our midst we have an excellent means of carrying out the Pope's injunction to the letter—an organisation called The Catholic Social Guild which was founded twentyeight years ago in order precisely to make known the teachings of the Church on social questions."
This organisation holds a Summer School each year at Oxford. The school provides an opportunity for exchange of views between social students of all classes and from many parts.
The chief work of the Guild is the exposition of the Papal Encyclicals on social questions and attendance at this Summer School has helped many to appreciate the extraordinary depth of the Social Encyclicals and their appositeness to the present discontents. There are also experts from England and the Continent on the particular problems of topical interest.
The international element is characteristic of these Summer Schools. A Frenchman or American from Rome may address an audience of Scottish, English, Irish, Welsh, Italian, American, Australian, Chinese, or African students of all ages, classes and types, and of both sexes.
The social and entertainment side is not neglected, although the after-lecture discusgions supply social contact enough. Social and recreational activities are arranged, including music and dancing, indoor and outdoor games and excursions. Most university towns are situated near a river which offers opportunities for boating and bathing.
To Summer School Under Own Power
Many people nowadays take their holidays in the form of a walking or cycling tour, and the searcher after knowledge is no exception.
Oxford, for instance, can be reached from the North through Durham, Ripon, Knaresborough, the Peak district or the Dukeries, Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon; from the South, over the Chilterns, through Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, or by way of the beautiful villages on the Thames; from the East by way of Lincolnshire, Cambridge and Bedfordshire; and, perhaps best of all, from the West, through the delectable Cotswolds. There is no limit to the variation of routes. Thus can summer holidays be combined with summer schools.
As to the cost, either or both these types combined, work out cheaper than the aimless seaside holiday and are infinitely more stimulating.