It was recently reported that a teacher in a Philadelphia public charter school lamented on his Twitter that with the Philadelphia schools going virtual again this fall, he wouldn’t be able to have “honest conversations about gender/sexuality” with his students.
His reason… parents might be “spectators” in the same room. He said that, education is engaging “in the messy work of destabilizing a kids (sic) racism or homophobia or transphobia,” and having parents looking on would get in his way.
Parents who have their children in public schools should be alarmed. It would be naïve to assume this teacher’s understanding of his role in reforming the minds of his young students is an isolated case. John Dewey, considered to be the most significant educational thinker of his era, laid the groundwork in an article he published in 1937 called “Education and Social Change.” A quick internet search finds many examples of education and social change or indoctrination being discussed together.
In psychological terms, destabilization is considered a means of brainwashing. This teacher has publicly admitted that his goal is to undermine family by “destabilizing” his students’ beliefs regarding gender and sexuality in order to subvert their family’s beliefs and values. In other words, as Dewey claimed, this teacher sees his role as an educator to be an instrument of social change. In fact, social change that undermines family, degrades humanity, and insults human dignity.
The Catholic Church and Education
Contrast this position with what the Catholic Church believes about education. In the first place, the Church teaches that parents are the primary educators of children, so any education that violates a family’s beliefs is a violation of trust.
The Declaration on Christian Education from the Second Vatican Council states that:
Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educating their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. (Gravissimum Educationis, 3)
Further, in 1977 the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education stated that,
…[Parents] are bound to cooperate actively with the school – which means supporting the educational efforts of the school and utilizing the structures offered for parental involvement, in order to make certain that the school remains faithful to Christian principles of education. (The Catholic School, 73)
In the mind of the Church, schools and parents form a partnership in the education of children. Any teacher or school that attempts to subvert parental authority is guilty of a serious violation of trust. Since parents are primarily responsible for their children’s education, a parent who allows a school to destabilize their children by subverting what is taught in the home is guilty of a grave abrogation of parental responsibility.
Education or Indoctrination?
In a previous post, we wrote that the two goals of Catholic education are:
- To strive to ignite a growing relationship with God so that children grow in holiness and truth; so that,
- They are capable and willing to assume responsibility as Christian adults for evangelization in the Church and in the world.
Authentic Catholic education is not driven by any ideology but rather by a desire to form children in faith and reason so that they may come to know the truth, and to love, and serve God.
Some claim that Catholic education is indoctrination in the Roman Catholic faith, but it is not. Indoctrination is the process of teaching a person to accept a set of beliefs unconditionally. Catholic classical education is a liberal education oriented toward the pursuit of truth and the freedom that is its sequela. It encourages students to question in the context of a dialog where belief is challenged and tested to be true.
We are confident in Jesus’ promise that he would send the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into all truth (Jn 16:13). In Catholic classical schools like the Regina Academies, children are introduced to the Truth who is a person named Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6).
The value of a Catholic classical education is that its goal is to form individuals who are capable of assessing different points of view in the light of what they know is true, good, and beautiful. Rooted in eternal truths, they can perceive ideologies that are destructive to human dignity and incompatible with reason.
The Critical Importance of Catholic Education
Shortly after the Philadelphia charter school teacher’s subversion of parental authority and belief hit the news, another story emerged from Tennessee where schools are asking parents to sign a form in which they agree to not monitor their child’s online classroom sessions. The school district claims that the reason is to protect other student’s academic privacy. Perhaps, but comments like the one from Philadelphia cause serious questions related to the motivation any school would have for wanting to “protect” some students from the prying eyes of parents.
One of the images of the faith in scripture is that it is a pearl of great price (Matt 13:46). The Regina Academies, and other faithful Catholic classical schools exist to protect this valuable treasure from being stolen away by robbers who would impose their secular ideology on children behind their parent’s gaze.
The experience of disaffiliation from the faith among the young has shown us just how fragile faith is in our secular culture. There is no destabilization happening in faithful Catholic schools. Our purpose is to build strength and confidence in all that is true, good, and beautiful, so that children grow into men and women of great faith who will work in society to reclaim it for Christ.
That faith is a pearl well-worth the investment. The Regina Academies were made for a time like this – a time when faith is challenged at every turn.
Public education only appears to be free. Its ultimate cost is immeasurable if it results in a child being stolen away from their family and losing the greatest opportunity they could ever have… the opportunity to grow in faith and holiness, and to learn to be truly free in Jesus Christ.