Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 5, 2007
St. Joseph's College nurtures spirit of Catholic schools
Well-informed, joyful teachers lift the level of Catholic education
By RICHARD RYMARZ
There is no substitute for the experience of a nurturing and supportive community.
Being informed and trained also plays a part. The more informed and better in tune teachers are with the philosophy and ethos that underpins Catholic schools, the more likely they are to been animated by this spirit and, more importantly, provide an educational experience that is formative and decisive.
This picks up the classical idea from St. Thomas Aquinas, the more we know, the more we love.
St. Joseph's College, at the University of Alberta, has two major roles to play in keeping the spirit of Catholic schools alive and flourishing.
First, it provides a Catholic presence at the university, a place where many of the teachers who will work in Catholic schools come to study and prepare for their vocation as teachers.
Formation, though, is not just about passing exams and handing in assignments, important as these may be. For the Catholic teacher it is about finding a place where you can experience the fellowship of your peers as you develop your faith life. St. Joseph's provides a place where this can happen.
The college also provides courses that help prospective teachers understand their role as teachers of religion, helping provide the skills and knowledge that will make them memorable teachers in the eyes of their students.
Teachers will only know about what the ethos and spirit of Catholics schools is if someone tells them about it in a clear and engaging manner - a way that satisfies and also empowers by giving the individual a sense of what they can contribute.
As well as a general vision there are a variety of practical issues - how do I do this, what does this mean, how can I say this better? These are all questions that teachers wrestle with everyday. For teachers of religion they are no less important.
The answers that teachers give to these and other questions is a tangible manifestation of the spirit of the school.
(Richard Rymarz teaches courses on religious education at St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta.)
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