Education History: Thinking Through Chapter 2 (or maybe 3): the Great Catholic Schooling Tradition

Finished up The Protestant Crusade, about which I’ll need to do one more post about how schooling plays into it. At the moment, I’m working on The Educational Ideas of Pestalozzi by J. A. Green, published in 1906. The formatting/readability of the available online versions I’ve been able to scrounge up is so poor I did a copy/paste from a (254 pp! Although it will probably be more like 150 pp when I’m done.) PDF, dumped it into a Google doc, resized the text, and am cleaning it up as I read. Lots of bad character reader artifacts, weird imbedded formatting that doesn’t want to be overridden, unpleasant line breaks – yet, fixing it is still probably more efficient than trying to plow through the messes I could find online. When I’m done, I should find a way to make it available, for the next schmuck who would want to read it. (in the words of Shrek: yea, like that’s gonna happen.)

Next up: I have a series of dead tree editions of biographies and works by and about the great Catholic educators: Don Bosco, Elizabeth Anne Seton, Jean Baptiste de la Salle. I need some on Drexel and Montessori. And, as is always the case, I’ll undoubtedly come across others as I read. A blessing and a curse.

The book will have a chapter or two on the educational beliefs, goals, and practices of the great Catholic teachers, including those mentioned above. I have collected quotations from other, earlier teachers as well. Then there’s the writings of the Catholics contemporary with the rise of the public and parochial schools here, chief among whom are Hecker and Brownson. Got a bunch of materials online for this, only skimmed so far. References are made by these writers to statements by the Pope and bishops – need to dig those up, too.

Image result for st jerome
The J-Man had some things to say about education. Given he may have been the best educated man among a bunch of highly educated men, probably a good idea to hear him out.

Unfortunately, I’m only a medium reader, not one of those who can rip through 100 pp/hour. I’m more a 30-35 pp/hr guy, much slower when taking notes as I am now. So – yea, big task. But surprisingly fun! I’ve slowly come to realize I enjoy reading history, science, philosophy and biography more, in general, than I enjoy reading fiction. Yes, I’m odd.

For the more popular book, my goal is to show how the great Catholic tradition in education is not linked to the graded classroom model except accidentally. For the planned more scholarly work, I want to trace the evolution of acceptance of the graded classroom model under the influence of the Catholic immigrant/outsider desire to fit in. Being as good as the public schools is a recurring theme, when being vastly better, and better by Catholic standards, should be the goal.

Author: Joseph Moore

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

12 thoughts on “Education History: Thinking Through Chapter 2 (or maybe 3): the Great Catholic Schooling Tradition”

    1. Interesting. Your comments were good.

      People really expect schools to raise our kids. Having seen age-mixing in practice, it’s a virtually unalloyed good. Little kids want to hang out with older kids; older kids often really can use the honest admiration of little kids to reassure them they’re OK.

      BUT: yea, you throw a few sociopaths-in-training in there, and it does screw things up. Schools aren’t going to fix that….

      1. Sure. The thing is we have this issue NOW. In the absence of data proving otherwise I see no reason to assume that the issue of pedophilia and abuse will be so bad ability-segregated teaching is impossible.

      2. Of course. Doing away with age segregation would be a major improvement in itself. What I’m grappling with now: forcing schools to address what each individual kid knows and needs is such a radical idea, so contrary to generations of teacher training, that I doubt 90%+ of the people teaching now could even do it. To promote age mixing is to promote burning the schools down and starting over, just one step removed.

        The real concern I saw in that thread: given today’s school population, if you ‘track’ students, you’d effectively be segregating kids by behavior issues. Yes, because the lack of sane, stable home life correlates to both difficulty behaving and difficulty learning.

        This is the fruit of a culture that’s accepted the destruction of the family as an acceptable price to pay for individual ‘freedom’. This is the culture of death in practice. I know parents who will stand there and deny that their kids problems in school have anything to do with dad having vanished or being treated as a pariah, and mom bringing in a string of live-in boyfriends who provide the only adult males in the kid’s life – and they change regularly, and are denounced in turn.

        Insane. School will not fix this, unless it is run by a John Bosco, the kids are removed entirely from the shreds of their families and provided another example of how adults behave – and that’s neither acceptable or doable without a revolution, probably with guns and dead people and stuff.

        I’m at a loss. What I want to do is get Catholic schools, at least, to ban age segregation. They, at least potentially, could have the distance, freedom, and backbone to change in the face of howling opposition.

        Man’s gotta dream.

      3. What I found most interesting about the thread is that 1) A teacher created it and 2) Most commenters, also teachers, agreed with it.

        The teachers see what’s going on. It’s a big open secret that the system is broken, but nobody has a clue as to what to do about it.

  1. I was struck by two comments indicating support for the current model.

    “I think you’re ignoring the importance of schools for teaching kids valuable social skills. And keeping kids within their own age group is gonna be the best way to do this as at these ages, even somebody being one year older or younger is seen as a huge difference. Helps kids build continuity in friendships and whatnot as well.”

    Lots of valuable responses related to bullying being a major “socializing” experience. But not many pointing out that the only reason “being one year older or younger is seen as a huge difference” is because you’ve been teaching children since they started their schooling that it is a huge difference. In a normal community, you’re always relating to a wide range of ages all the time.

    “I agree that grouping kids by ability is a better idea, but I think it’s still important to take age into account. If you have a 16 year old in a class full of 12 year olds, that can cause some issues.”

    Our host will know better than I, but this seems to me to be a deliberately extreme example. For one thing, didn’t most schooling according to the one-room-schoolhouse model end about fourteen or fifteen? That is, about puberty back in those days? A sixteen-year-old is one who had the aptitude and calling for advanced education. And secondly, the question is still being presented in terms of the age-segregated model. A sixteen-year-old wouldn’t commonly be in a room full of twelve-year-olds. He would be one of three of four in a room full of children who spanned the range from six (say) to sixteen. Kind of like what one’s experience would be if one were home-schooled in a large family.

    1. Your comment: “But not many pointing out that the only reason “being one year older or younger is seen as a huge difference” is because you’ve been teaching children since they started their schooling that it is a huge difference.” – that’s it entirely. Two kids meet – seen this a million times – and within seconds one of them will ask: “what grade are you in?” Turns out that’s the critical piece of information: do I fear you, hold you in contempt, or treat you as a peer? Can I even play with you? That’s if the kid has been properly socialized by the schools. If the kid is lucky enough to have a bunch of siblings and cousins, he may not care too much, violate schooling taboos and go ahead and treat the other kid like – a kid.

      1. Actually, thst was one interesting aspect of theater. Granted, this anecfote is feom high school when age differences start to blur anyway, but my experience doing high school theater was that people simply weren’t fussed about three or four year age gaps because we all had to find a way to work closely together to make the show work.

        So the evidence is even in plain sight that such a thing is very possible at least within three to four grades.

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