Thursday, 2 June 2011


...that is not a word I like much.

This may explain why I don't think I'll ever run for anything like a senior management post in a Catholic School. Let me explain, my own very personal view, and may it not detract from those valiant people who are trying to make a go of upholding Catholicism within our education system.

Firstly, there is the compromise of mission. The mission of any Catholic school is to prepare the child for heaven through guiding them to a full life in Christ. The mission is compromised by the needs to fit out the child with examination success and grades. We really do place too high an emphasis on exam grades; what do they really produce other than wage slaves?

Secondly, there is the compromise of quality. Nobody is actually brave enough to say that the content of the vast majority of examinations is poor. It needs many man hours and skilled examiners to mark essays and detailed scientific problems. Most examinations now are "chunked" into markable protions, this means there is a preponderance of fact/vocabulary based questions and little to test real understanding and the development of concepts and ideas. But learning for examination is putting the cart before the horse. Sadly, there is no real alternative to this approach, especially with the dire methodology associated with modular exams "learn this chunk, then forget it and go onto the next module".

Thirdly, there is is a compromise in dignity. The individual and the nurturing their talents is secondary to a conformity and passivity within a group of learners to "get on with the course". The pupils who naturally questions things, who need to learn slowly, who need to read everything aloud, who need to draw pictures, who are precocious and don't like working with their peers, who like to tell stories, who like to create and invent things, who are obsessive in neatness and attention to detail....are all let down. They are all fishes swept up in the same drag net to be sorted on the ship and often to be thrown back into the sea, traumatised and half-dead, becuse they don't meet the right criteria.

Finally, there is a compromise in charity. To be a teacher is to give back everything you have been given in bucket loads. All the hours teachers put into your development, you return with interest. Any iota of enthusiasm and inspiration you had, you try to return to the classroom only more so. Any joy you have for your faith and the Church you also try to intstill in your pupils, sadly, this last one is the hardest, but most important. The compromise comes in that this is made a secondary, often incidental, aim of your teaching rather than the primary aim. Through being Catholic and not being able to say that the Catholic Church IS one, true, and apostolic and that truth, wisdom, beauty and the surest road to salvation can only be really found within her, we are compromising our charity and not doing anyone any favours. But such a message is deemed offensive, we cannot celebrate the Church, its teachings and its relationship with Christ in a way that realy makes us "walk the walk and talk the talk".

Schultz- Charlie Brown

Somehow, I, personally don't find it right for me to accept the money to do a job in senior management that smacks so highly of compromise and political expediency.


Robert said...

Rita, you are so right. My 9 yr old son is practically a genius, but he so much of what he is and can be would be lost and repressed in school, even a Catholic school, so I am very happy that my wife home schools him and his younger sister, using the Charlotte Mason method. If you don't know about it and her, you should read up, because she DID (as my wife does) so much of what you appear to advocate for in this post.

Yes, there would be (is) compromise and it never serves the children very well.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine has worked in some "challenging" schools. She is a very talented English teacher who was an absolute Godsend when I starting home educating my teenaged son who could not read when I pulled him from school.
She loves her subject and she is dedicated to the children; a combination that has brought her to serious depression.
Her final sally into school was met with a "teach only to the test" response from the head.
She is now a private tutor.
Of course there are so many children not coping in school she has plenty of work, even with primary aged children.
I have to say I am astonished that parents will have their children in school all week and pay a tutor to see them in the evening.

It's gone wrong somewhere hasn't it?
God bless
Shell x