Catholic schools are more important than ever according to teacher Ryan Bilodeau in a recent article he wrote:
Catholic schools prepare young men and women for life as successful scientists or authors or engineers. But more importantly, Catholic schools prepare our students for a lifelong relationship with God that spans from this life into the next.
Ryan calls education “inevitably holistic,” and points to the lessons learned in a Catholic school as bigger in scope than its public counterpart. And for that reason, “there is much to be proud of and thankful for as Catholic schools week approaches.”
Catholic school enrollment in America, which peaked in the 1960s at about 5 million students, has decreased and now sits at around 2 million. The cost of parochial schooling, and the decrease in number of Catholics in America are probably responsible. Ryan Bilodeau thinks that this is problematic because of the true education brought into focus by Catholic schools. The Congregation for Catholic Education, in its “Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millenium” document, argues:
“From the nature of the Catholic school also stems one of the most significant elements of its educational project: the synthesis between culture and faith. Indeed, knowledge set in the context of faith becomes wisdom and life vision. The endeavour to interweave reason and faith, which has become the heart of individual subjects, makes for unity, articulation and coordination, bringing forth within what is learnt in school a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture and of history. In the Catholic school’s educational project there is no separation between time for learning and time for formation, between acquiring notions and growing in wisdom.”
I have spoken in the past about my high school teacher and the role he played in my religious development as a teenager. The role of a teacher is not only to impart intellectual lessons, but also to set an example for what a healthy and holy life looks like. There is no avoiding the fact that life’s lessons outside the classroom are as important as the ones in them.
Students learning physics are at the same time internalizing the value of hard work. Writing an essay in English class helps students to struggle with big ideas. Coaches motivating their players on the athletic field are promoting the value of persistence. But even more important than these lessons, according to Ryan Bilodeau, are the ones learned in a Catholic school.