Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another thought on Catholic Education & Math

Oops. I'm back. One of the best things about the blog for me is that it allows me to nail down a thought while it is formed in my head instead of just trying to reconstruct it later when it comes up in a particular context. (I've also noticed that I sleep better when I allow myself to finish a thought by writing it down).


I was thinking about my post the other day about the nature of Catholic Education - especially the Math example. I was re-working the idea in my head partly because it's an idea that can be easily misunderstood, especially when we, as Catholic educators, are often reacting against anti-Catholic positions out there in the world. I'm not trying to argue against the use of Catholic books or the importance of Catholic education. Here's a what I was trying to say in more of a nutshell (or at least an attempt at a nutshell)...

If we as educators are arguing about whether a math book is Catholic or Protestant rather than determining whether it is a good Math book, I think that is a problem. This conflict implies that we are looking at this aspect of Catholic education in a superficial way, because we are looking only to the surface to judge the material - such as whether there is overtly religious Catholic material in the word problems. There is nothing wrong with such "cultural" Catholic content in educational materials so long as it doesn't cause us to lose sight of what matters most - helping our children learn to recognize and desire the truth.

Part of the point is that this "cultural" content is not essential to a subject like Math. The essential part is a having a resource or program that works well in accomplishing the goals. Those goals are illuminated by our Faith. Some of them will have a direct bearing on the Faith, such as the development of the mind which can be used to do "the Father's work." If the program also provides cultural Catholic content, that's great, but we shouldn't sacrifice the essence of a subject for the cultural parts which could be covered elsewhere if necessary. Honestly, I don't think it's a Catholic way of looking at education.

1 comment:

Kristen Laurence said...

Well said, Alicia.