School Days For Educators All on the Same Page
It doesn’t take much time at all for puppies and kittens to become independent, but little men are born so helpless and they need their parents’ care for many long years. In entrusting a father and mother with the care of bringing a new human being into the world, God also gives them the responsibility of raising the child, educating him, and leading him to the autonomy of adulthood.
Children are born to natural life through the intermediary of their parents, but they are also born to the supernatural life of grace through the baptism conferred by the Church. The Church, too, has a duty to watch over the education of her children in order to make of them worthy sons and daughters of God.
Concretely, the early education of a baby is mostly in his mother’s hands. It is on his mother’s knees that little Peter learns to stammer out his first words, to look at his first picture book, to put his little paws together for his first prayer. How precious this early maternal education is, and how much better it is for children to receive it from their own mother, and not from a nanny, a daycare or a nursery! “Every child learns to look at the world through his mother’s eyes.”
But little Peter will grow, and the time will come when he will need to learn to read and write and count, to learn his catechism and so many other things, too. Not all mothers are capable of turning into school teachers and then math professors, not to mention the fact that they also have the little brothers and sisters to take care of. When it comes down to it, the family, where the child receives his early education, is not able to accomplish the entire task of education all alone; it needs outside help. But this help is more than just help; it receives an authority delegated by the parents and by the Church, who remain the child’s first educators.
Harmony in the Choice of a School
Consequently, the parents must choose this help well, so that it will be a continuation of the education they give at home, and not counteract or destroy it. Such great care goes into the education of a king’s son; what must not be the care put into the education of a son of God! Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre used strong words back in 1979, when he said, “If the schools corrupt your children, what are you going to do? Deliver them to the corrupters? To those who teach these abominable sexual practices in the schools? In reality that is what they are teaching to the children: they corrupt them from their tenderest youth. Are you to put up with that? It is inconceivable!” And what Archbishop Lefebvre said of the schools is also true of all the other places where children receive an education outside of the family: summer camps, sports clubs, music schools. There are so many unfortunate surprises, alas, and it is a lucky thing when they are not discovered too late, when the child has already dabbled in drugs, when habits of idleness and vulgarity have already been formed, when his imagination has already been soiled, or worse yet!
But let us suppose that little Peter is enrolled in a truly Catholic school that will provide him with the religious and non-religious education he needs, in keeping with his parents’ religious convictions. This a good, an excellent start, but it is not everything. The parents still need to collaborate harmoniously with the different authorities, the teachers and priests, for the greater good of their child.
Harmony Among Educators
First of all, the parents mustn’t hesitate to meet with the teacher or priest and provide all the information that could be useful for the good of their child. For example, “Ever since his little brother was born, Marcus has been acting like a baby to get attention; he needs a lot of affection.” “Anne has some serious health trouble and awful eczema that sometimes makes her grouchy.” “My wife is very tired with the new baby coming, and she can’t keep up with Joseph’s homework; it is a difficult time for the children.”
If the grades are dropping, instead of waiting for them to turn into a complete catastrophe, collaboration between the parents and the teachers can make it easier to find the reasons and the remedies (growth spurt? poor hearing? a lack of organization for the homework? too many extra-curricular activities? need to re-motivate the child with a severe scolding or the promise of a reward, or with supernatural incentives? etc.)
The one thing that must be avoided at all costs is one authority criticizing the other in front of the children. A professor who criticizes the parents in front of their children is odious; besides, he undermines his own authority, since it is delegated by the parents. Likewise, the parents must never judge the teachers in front of the children. “My poor little dear, this assignment is way too difficult for your age, and the topic is poorly written and completely uninteresting; this is how I would have done it …”: and you have succeeded in encouraging little Peter not to put any effort into it, since the assignment is uninteresting and too difficult; in encouraging him not to respect his teacher, who is no good, and to judge and criticize authority. Sometimes, when giving an assignment, a teacher can use methods that are not necessarily the parents’ methods; he takes the entire class into account, and what they have or have not seen together in class, and the parents are not always aware of all these factors. When in doubt, there is nothing to stop the parents from going to speak with him, and asking him to explain his educational goals, but above all, little Peter must not be present at this meeting! Perhaps one of his assignments really and objectively is unsuitable: everyone can make mistakes, even a teacher. Most likely, he will realize the problem on his own when he sees that the pupils’ answers are not at all what he expected…
Harmony between the Faith and Life
It is not just because of the lessons they learn, but more for the educational aspect of school life that it is so important for the family and the school to have the same standards. If at school he behaves one way but at home it is the diametrical opposite, it is a perfect training in duplicity for little Peter: there are some things you should do, but they are just a façade for in public when you are seen. “At school, we receive the sacraments; at home, Dad and Mom never do, so it must not be all that important. I’ll do it now to make Father happy, and to look good, but when I’m older, I’ll be free!”
But if what their father and mother say is repeated by the teachers and priests and vice versa, the children will be educated in a coherent and truthful, solid and safe atmosphere. They will have everything they need to develop a solid personality built on firm convictions: they will be our future leaders and tomorrow’s saints…