1. The general aims of all education are:
1. To develop a healthy body;
2. To develop a creative mind;
3. To develop job/work related skills;
4. To develop good and strong hearts
(from which comes good behaviour);
5. To develop spiritual awareness.
These are not Christian aims. They are aims to help a person grow as a human person
What Christian education adds to such human education is:
6. To develop a personal relationship with God in Christ Jesus; and
to learn to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple.
2. These general aims of all education apply to every quality education system.
These general aims were found in most traditional education processes. They are part of the “noble traditions” that the Constitution and the Education Act legislate as the basis of our education system.
3. Aims 5 is completely missing from our curriculum. Aim 4 is in our curriculum in two strands, but is very poorly developed.
4. Aim 4: Developing good and strong hearts can also be called social literacy, emotional literacy and resilience. It involves teaching children such social skills as HOW TO:
ask for help,
say “Thank you” “excuse me” “sorry”;
offer help to an adult or a classmate;
begin a conversation;
give a compliment;
accept a compliment;
learn self- control;
respond to teasing;
stay out of fights;
deal with an accusation;
deal with boredom;
deal with losing;
deal with being left out;
deal with group pressure;
Know your feelings;
recognise another’s feelings;
show understanding of another’s feelings;
deal with anger;
deal with fear;
put things where they belong;
work as a team;
use your hands for good;
The list goes on
5. Aim 5: Developing spiritual awareness can also be called simply self- awareness, enlightenment, personal identity. It is part of being human. It involves an inner journey, sometimes described as a journey from the head to the heart. It involves learning such skills as:
how to maintain hope
how to grow in faith and trust
how to love and be loved
how to become more aware of my personal qualities
how to balance desires that are too weak or too strong
how to live a balanced life
how to develop virtues and values
6. The Personal Development syllabus
The P D syllabus is the area where these social and spiritual dimensions of the human person might be expected to be taught. The PD syllabus has two strands called – Relationships and Living and Working Together.
Many of the social skills listed above are named in the P D syllabus and Teachers’ Guides as aims or as Recommended Processes and Skills.
However, when recommending suggested activities, the Teachers’ Guides focus only on mental activities about these social skills.
Some examples from the Upper Primary Teacher Guide are on the last page.
The Recommended processes and skills a
participate and cooperate in the community
demonstrate how to be socially competent
developing team work skills
thinking critically and making choices
gathering and analysing information
The missing question is: HOW?
How do we teach students to develop team work skills?
How do we teach a student who is not socially competent to become so?
The Suggested activities for this strand are:
identify share discuss describe conduct a survey outline
These are all mental activities. They will help students understand these things, but they will not, by themselves, lead students to do these things. They help educate the mind, but not the heart. Students will know what to do, but will they want to do it?
I ask the question if the effects of this empty space, this vacuum, in our curriculum is one major factor in the kinds of negative behaviour we are experiencing in our schools in recent years.
It is one of the reasons for the various alternative curriculums being offered by some permitted schools and by the attraction of the IEA curriculum or the I B curriculum which at least integrate values into their curriculums.
That question may be worth some serious research before we continue to blame Institutions for poor behaviour management.
7. Contributing factors
HOPE and learning to maintain hope is one key to quality education. If students have hope in a better future, most will want to learn and do their best.
The Government has always structured HOPELESSNESS into the education system.
In past years it structured push-outs after Grade 6 or 8 or 10. Students knew, by Grade 5 or 7 or 9 that they had no hope and some of them acted from out of their hopelessness.
Today the Government is doing the same thing with schools of excellence. When these schools attract the best and brightest – and take almost 100% of the few post secondary opportunities for further studies – all your Provincial Secondary schools will become schools of structured hopelessness.
We should not be surprised if the teachers and students in these schools act out of their hopelessness.
8.1 About Personal Development
After the new Standards based curriculum for numeracy and literacy has been developed, the DoE is requested to take sufficient time to revise the Personal Development syllabus to include more realistic social development skills and include aspects of human spiritual development.
8.2 About Schools of Excellence
That all Provincial Governors be briefed about the consequences for their secondary schools of continuing with the schools of excellence concept, with a view of changing this government policy.
Fr Paul Jennings MSC
CHAIR National Catholic Education Board
RECOMMENDATIONS TO SEOC
FROM CHURCHES EDUCATION COUNCIL
Recommendation 1: Partnership
That at all levels of education, partnership with church education agencies, both in design of policy and in implementation, be enhanced.
Recommendation 2: Social and spiritual development of young people
That the new Standards Based Curriculum revise the current Personal Development Syllabus and Teacher Guides to include more social skills and spiritual awareness education. That CDAD partner with Church education agencies to develop these revised curriculum.
Recommendation 3: Flexibility
That all policies and programs in education include flexibility, to make allowance for the needs and circumstances of isolated and remote educational institutions.