Outlining Non-Fiction: 2 Proposed Books on Catholic Education

In the comments a couple posts back, regular commenter Richard A said I should finish the nonfiction books I’ve sort of started. This is fair. So, to recap what I hope to accomplish: for many years now, I’ve wanted to address my despair over Catholic education in this country, and suggest (too mild a term) steps needed to free ourselves from this unholy thralldom to education theories and practices that are not only not Catholic, but were designed specifically to destroy the influence of Church and family on the formation of children.

In my mind, this would take the form of 2 books, which would then form the backbone of efforts to get invited to conferences, get interviewed, and whatever other forms of publicity needed to get these ideas out there.

Book 1: the popular plea. This would be a shorter, less academic book intended to be read by anybody interested in Catholic education. It would include more stories and examples, less history and quotations. It still needs to undermine the foundations of the wretched graded classroom model, and sow the seeds of a truly Catholic education model, where child, Church and family work together to put children on the road to their own unique God-given sanctity. A Catholic education should equip every child to defend the Truth and rebuild the culture (an eternal task given to every generation). It might, for example, tell the story of the early Spanish schools in Texas, as an example of how others have tried to address these issues and of a radically different model, but would not include too much detail on the evolution and promulgation of that particular model.

The goal of Book 1: to help people realize that, for Catholics, rejecting the age-graded, teacher-dominated, regurgitation model is the essential 1st step toward any Catholic education worthy of the name. I’d then present (generally much milder) criticisms of other models, and suggest alternatives, and end with a description of what I’ll call the Oratory-style Catholic school I’d like to see.

Book 2: the bomb. This book would attempt to simply detonate all the assumptions behind modern schooling, from a Catholic perspective. I’d go through each of the founding lights of modern education, from the Spartans through the ephebia, the ‘schools’ of Athens and Alexandria, on to the monasteries, the universities, Luther’s suggestion the the state seize the monasteries and turn them into compulsory schools, to Pestalozzi, Fichte, the various English schools, Dickens’ Hard Times, then on through Mann, Barnard, Cubberley, and Harris, etc.. Then on through the Catholic parish school movements, and Burns and the people at Catholic U, and Bishop Ireland and the runs-ins caused by his endorsement of public schools, the encyclicals against Modernism, discussion of Modernism and the heresy of American Catholicism (versus a Catholicism that happens to be in America), and the near-desperate desire of immigrants to be seen as good Americans and the dolorous effects this desire produced, and the persecuted Germans fleeing to America and bringing their Prussian model school system with them.

Then outline the ongoing efforts to make Catholic schools illegal, or, failing that, to put them effectively at the mercy of the state (the first failed, so far, but the second is where we are today: states will start mandating transgender sex ed, and the legal framework is in place to force Catholic schools to implement it).

Somewhere in there would be a discussion of ‘scientific’ education practices, and how, in fact, there is no scientific support for the current model, and plenty of science that argues against it. (Of course, one has to state goals first – science as science doesn’t have any goals.)

The goal of this book would simply be to provide the background detail needed to buttress the arguments in the first book.

I’ve drafted a few chapters here and there. Some of the posts on this blog are approximately rough drafts of some. But I need to get much more organized.

I need to do some outlining somewhere. Why not here? Rough draft:

Book 1: Let the Little Children Come: Towards More Catholic Schoolings

Intro: “Let the little children come to Me”

  1. Christ is attractive: ‘let,’ not ‘make,’ the little children come.
  2. The goal of Catholic education is not different from the goal of Catholic life: Everything flows from and is directed toward the Eucharist.
  3. We educate our children to be more fully members of the Body of Christ;
  4. Catholic education is not job training. Being ‘productive members of society’ is not primary – our God-given value is much more fundamental than our ability to produce, and does not depend on it.
  5. Thus, a Catholic school and the education it provides will allow children to be welcomed by Jesus, be directed toward and flow from the Eucharist, and will see in each child as a unique child of God apart from and prior to anything they can do.
  6. Catholic education will necessarily reject anything that interferes with any of the above.

Chapter 1: The State of Affairs

  1. Where our current system comes from
  2. What our current system is designed to do, in the words of the people who built it.
  3. Our parish schools built in response to the blatant and relentless anti-Catholicism of the public schools
  4. How the Church won battles and lost the war.
Image result for monastery library

Chapter 2: Educational traditions other than the age-segregated graded classroom (touching very lightly)

  1. Jewish schools
  2. Ephebia
  3. The Greek ‘schools’ – Plato, Aristotle, the schools of Alexandria
  4. Tutors
  5. Apprentices
  6. Monasteries
  7. The Great Universities – the Questions method, the trivium and quadrivium.
  8. One-Room Schools
Image result for University of Oxford

Chapter 3: Experimentation & Bad Ideas

  1. Sparta & the Republic
  2. Luther
  3. Pestalozzi
  4. Fichte

Chapter 4: The Modernist Foundation

  1. Von Humboldt & the Prussian Models
  2. Horace Mann & the American Dilettante Invasion of Prussia
  3. Back Rooms and the Establishment of State Education Departments
  4. The Killing of the One Room Schools
  5. The Frankfurt School & Critical Theory
  6. Bella Dodd
  7. Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  8. The Mask has been dropped – this whole system must be rejected
Image result for one room schoolhouse

Chapter 5: Catholic Educational Traditions

  1. St. Jerome’s advice to a woman asking how best to educate her daughter
  2. Christian Brothers
  3. Salesians
  4. Waves of Sisters & the Parish School
  5. Montessori
  6. Observation: education of the orphaned and abandoned child is different than education a child as part of a family: the former must provide the structure present in the latter before education can take place.

Chapter 6: The Eucharistic Approach to Education

Comments? I’ll get to Book II soon, I hope.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

9 thoughts on “Outlining Non-Fiction: 2 Proposed Books on Catholic Education”

  1. No comments at the moment, but I’d love to read the finished book. I teach 7th grade catechesis on Sundays, and I’ve been working hard to break it out of the “school” mode, because “school” is something the kids naturally isolate from the rest of their lives and try to forget as soon as they’re out of the setting.

    1. I am involved in several religious Ed programs at our parish, and I often want to throttle people I otherwise love and respect, when they launch into their bag of classroom tricks: asking adults to give them words they associate with some concepts, and they’ll just keep asking until they get the words they were looking for. I am in favor of giving brief talks that respect the listeners and allowing plenty of time for questions and back-and-forth. But alas people equate their school experience with learning, and so are unable to imagine any other way of doing it.

  2. Caleb Stegall in a review of Bill Kauffman’s Look Homeward, America: “On school consolidation: ‘a profoundly anti-community movement conceived by progressives of the Big is Beautiful stripe that was given wing by the militarism of those allegedly halcyon 1950s, when the chimera of well-drilled little Ivan Sputnik was used to regiment the comparatively anarchic American educational system.'”

  3. Looking forward to finished book too 🙂 I began my homeschooling journey very un-schooly, and find myself attracted by the descriptions of classical ed I’ve heard and read, but even there it seems we can’t get away from a graded set-up. Now with a high-schooler and soon to be two, it’s hard to find a middle way with enough structure but not constriction. I have loved my experience with the Socratic Literature approach that I was introduced to by a friend (when she was also my daughter’s lit teacher) – wish I didn’t have to recreate the thing from scratch while also learning All the Topics in order to educate my own children….

    I made my way ~2/3 thru the book on John Senior (John Senior and the Restoration of Realism – Fr. Francis Bethel) and found it very thought-provoking regarding what I want *my* little school to produce. I want to return to it and also read Senior’s own writings, but they take my best brain, rather than my end-of-day bedtime brain, which makes time hard to find.

    I have to say – I very much appreciate all your writings on education, be they practical, philosophical, or historical.

  4. I am also very much looking forward to reading your finished book(s). Your blog posts about education have been very enlightening, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. A book or two on the subject would be fabulous.

  5. Looks even more ambitious than your occasional snippets, which were ambitious enough. But our culture is obviously getting now what we were intended to get. Time for a change. Can hardly wait to get the final product(s).

  6. Joseph

    I too would love to read them.

    I’m not sure how feasible it is but would you consider crowdfunding?
    I’d certainly sponsor the books.


  7. I look foward eagerly to the finished products. As Mr. Basora suggests, if crowdfunding would help I am confident you would get takers. No comments on the outline – you have demonstrated (to the satisfaction of this regular reader, at least) your competence in the area, so I am happy to leave it to you. Might have some comments as time goes on, of course, particularly on ancient and medieval precedents. Everything I know in this area in the American context I learned from you, so I will not be so presumptious as to advise you on that score.

  8. Just getting caught up on your blog, but I have always enjoyed your education writing. I’m very eager to read your book, especially since you have a proposal for what should be done, not just what not to do! Please, keep writing!

    Signed, a homeschool mother/educational philosophy enthusiast

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: