schools

Short is good

I watched TheOdd1sOut's How to Find Inspiration1 and remembered the most important lesson I learned from my high school English teacher:

Short is good. Short is hard.

The teacher2 didn't exactly put it like that. But he harped on something nobody else did: writing concisely.

Every week we would read a work of American literature. And every Friday we'd turn in a one-pager encapsulating our knowledge of the book. I was an odd duck for how much I enjoyed the game: no playing with margins or font sizes. I had to cram an entire book into one page, double-spaced, with 1" margins, a title line, and a byline.

I remember spending Thursday nights honing my text, usually down to around 500 words. We would get a slight bonus for conveying more with fewer words.

That's surprisingly difficult for teenagers conditioned to churn out a specific word count. TheOdd1sOut commiserates:

Pope Benedict XVI on Catholic Identity in Educational Institutions

From the Vatican Information Service:

"It is no exaggeration", the Pope added, "to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country".

"First, as we know, the essential task of authentic education ... is not simply that of passing on knowledge, essential as this is, but also of shaping hearts. There is a constant need to balance intellectual rigour in communicating ... the richness of the Church’s faith with forming the young in the love of God, the praxis of the Christian moral and sacramental life and, not least, the cultivation of personal and liturgical prayer".

Read the full article here: The Catholic Identity of Educational Institutions.

A Utopian City...

Today I read a post from the Guardian entitled "In Kansas City, school's out." This article fails to engage me on so many levels, and the saddest thing is that the journalist behind the article, Sasha Abramsky, fails, like pretty much all other journalists, to find and highlight the core problem of why school systems (most especially public school systems) are failing, or are, at least, in horrible shape financially, and in enrollment numbers.

"If there are lessons to be learned from Kansas City's dismal experiences, they are about the importance of holistic thinking: of looking for ways not just to desegregate schools but to preserve integrated, economically diverse urban cores; of providing middle-class families with reasons to continue using public services; of building up the notion of common community again so that the public sector flourishes rather than withers" (Source).

The glaring problem that is always overlooked, in this article, in most articles about failing schools, and in almost every conversation I've heard on the subject, is that nobody cares about the kids anymore.

I am, God-willing, going to become a parent in less than two years' time. I want my child(ren) to have the absolute best education, the best opportunities, and the strongest faith and most intelligent sensibilities possible. Does public school offer this for my child? In some districts, maybe. In my experience, three key issues are holding back many parents who, like me, want their children to become intelligent and holy: