Thursday, July 12, 2007

What about Catholic Pedagogy?

Industrial-Age vs. New Science thinking. Where do I stand? To be quite honest, with one foot in each. To speak to the Industrial-Age pedagogy, we cannot deny and should not neglect the utilitarian nature of education. In one way or another, it is incumbent upon us, as educators, to prepare students “to deal with the stress of the real world” (Senge, 2000, p. 28). To do any less would be irresponsible and almost criminal. Perhaps it is the privilege of first-world countries to worry so much about Abraham Maslow’s coveted self-actualization, but the fact remains that before you can reach that level of fulfillment, you must first fill your stomachs. And quite frankly, “deepening our sense of who we are and what we are committed to” (p. 35) does not feed your stomach. So, educators must accept the real world in which their students exist, which is still very Industrial-Age in its preference for educated workers who can outperform their peers. However, the changing needs of the new global marketplace also place my other foot in New Science, or systems, pedagogy. Peter Senge noted, “Employers of tomorrow likely will place a much higher value on listening and communication skills, on collaborative learning capabilities, and on critical thinking and systems thinking skills—because most work is increasingly interdependent, dynamic, and global” (p. 51). So, even from a utilitarian perspective, we must employ systems pedagogy if we want our students to be competitive in the global marketplace.

However, I did not get into education for strictly utilitarian reasons. That is why I work at a Catholic school, whose mission not only subsumes both Industrial-Age and systems pedagogies, but also transcends utilitarianism. My school’s mission states, “Mount Carmel School educates the whole person to see with Christ’s eyes.” From an Industrial-Age perspective, to see with Christ’s eyes means to perceive with the clarity of Christ’s vision and recognize how different parts of a whole work, just as Jesus recognized how the different laws of the Old Testament worked. From a New Science perspective, to see with Christ’s eyes means to discern with Christ’s wisdom and recognize how the different parts work together as one whole, just as Jesus synthesized all the old laws of the Old Testament into a new and profoundly simple new law. My school’s mission, which integrates both pedagogies, also offers utilitarian value to students’ education by equipping them with the analytical and critical thinking skills they will need to succeed in the real world. However, that same mission sees students from a holistic perspective and calls on them to transcend utilitarianism to find a higher purpose, a deeper meaning to their life on earth. For what does it mean to see with Christ’s eyes but to see people as Christ did, and love them as He did?

2 comments:

Ted Martin said...

It's awesome to see that you recognize the strength's of both Industrial-Age and New Science thinking. It's obvious that you make sure your school lives up to its Mission statement. The fact that you are a principal and a teacher has given you great insight for assisting your teachers and students.

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