Saturday, September 03, 2005

Miscellaneous thoughts on education

Catholic higher education is, for the most part, in the pits. There are a few notable Catholic institutions renowned for their orthodoxy such as TAC, Ave Maria, Christendom, or Stuebenville. Each of these colleges have certain problems attending them, as do all institutions, but you can at least expect a youth to emerge from them without believing that it is their "duty to use birth control," as my biology professor told the female half of my class quite seriously. Catholic colleges, though, are few and far between.

The Church recommends that children attend a Catholic school and therewith proceed to go to some Catholic college. I echo such sentiments, although my earlier post may have seemed an attack on those who attend Catholic colleges. But no - as I clarified, it was an attack on the attitude of some who actively reject the world because they view it as irredeemable. The primary purpose of college is to bring students to truth, and it is made a much simpler task if the teachers are ones that are trustworthy. At Campion, I experienced a year of unmitigated bliss because I could trust my teachers. At a community college, there is no such luxury.

Now, as a reader brought up, why would one want to attend a secular institution if there are so many dangers besetting it?

There are several reasons: first, the cost. Catholic families are generally large, and as such, sometimes cannot afford to send children off to Notre Dame or TAC. It has been my experience that Catholic colleges do not adequately meet the financial needs of large families and I have had friends who are in similar straits - though from smaller families. In such cases, a student can either enter into debt (thus precluding them from joining an order or starting a family upon graduation) or attend a secular institution that is cheaper. I choose the latter - and as a result, will emerge with a BA scot free from debt. If I had attended a Catholic college, I would be in debt upwards of $20,000. By modern standards, that really isn't that much considering average college debt ranges from $12-18,000, but it still is a rather hefty amount.

Second, there are Catholics at secular institutions. Quite good ones, in fact. If you can find them, then you can establish a group of friends who are as holy or holier than thou, preventing you (unless you're really trying) from taking a nasty fall and entering into bad habits (and I'm not talking blue sweaters and knee-length skirts). So the situation is not as dire as it might seem on the surface.

Third, I tend to give some credit to Catholic youth. If they were raised right, then they should be prepared to face the world at the age of eighteen. If they were raised in such a way that their faith is on the back burner, or if they are particularly susceptible to bad influences, then ship them off to some good institution. Most of the errors in modern thought/false beliefs can be ferreted out fairly quickly because they are so sloppily put. When a teacher writes on the board "THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH" and then quietly says "In our enlightened times, we know that there is no objective truth, that truth is subjective," you can but giggle at them. Or, when a philosophy professor says that Muslim women wear veils so that they can wear miniskirts and makeup underneath --- apply same response, rinse, repeat. Or when a professor simply gushes about how wonderful the Aztecs were (woo! Human sacrifice - right ON!) and what a pity it is that we darned Christians had to ruin their culture when really our gods are all the same - who could resist such rhetoric? (All of these are real-life experiences.) Much "liberal" thought has an effect similar to: "Honey, can you take out the garbage?" "What!? Are you saying I'm FAT?" aherm yes.

It is better that one should attend a Catholic college, but Catholics can remain Catholic in a secular institution and there are valid reasons for attending one. This is just a very brief post and one that does no justice, whatsoever, to the whole education...thing.


JHP said...

quick anecdote: My friend at Holy Cross, Worcester was called a "fine evolutionary survival machine". Apparently that meant she was good looking.

I still take issue, up to a point, with #3. I believe that some, maybe many, are capable of retaining the Faith at a large, secular institution - ironically, probably easier at a secular than at a "catholic" - but I still suspect that the majority won't. Not that they won't come back to the Faith later, but why risk it?

The modern hatred of all things Western and relatavism can be put more convincingly than that. It says something that such poor and obviously flawed philosophies are so common.

Money: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world should he lose his soul?"

A more immediate concern is elementary and secondary schooling. May I email an article to you?

Deirdre said...

True, there are many subtler ways in which to inculcate error, some of them deal not with philosophy at'all, but with historical fictions that paint the Church black - and how many people will look up the facts surrounding Galileo or remember Louis Pasteur, Gregor Mendel, St. Gregory, etc.

I'm not really concerned with quantifying the number of people who may remain faithful versus those who do not, but with setting forth reasons as to why it is not necessarily a spiritual suicide if a Catholic is brought up properly. I could argue that many would remain Catholic, but that would be a little silly as the "proofs" would be comprised of many "ifs" increasingly fantastical in nature.

There is danger, and it is best to go to a Catholic college - I do not dispute that. If you are intimating that one should not attend a secular institution at all because there is danger - that I dispute. It is not a proximate occasion of sin! It is even necessary if you wish to go into hard sciences.


I was re-reading my earlier post, and I noticed a point which may be a source of confusion: when I speak of Catholic institutions that are in the process of falling, there still remains a visible group of faithful that should be aided because the Catholic identity of the institution is redeemable and worth preserving. In such cases as these, twiddling thumbs is rather tsk-worthy as there is no great danger of a Catholic falling away through attending such an institution.

Also, "retreating to a Catholic utopia" refers to Catholics (families or singles) removing themselves from the metropolis to live far, far away from any smell of sin. It seems too. . . gnostic. Not quite in the right spirit, dont'cha know?

Feel free to email me article(s).


JHP said...

I think I understand you and I do tend to agree. When I was younger I vehemently opposed home-schooling for similar reasons (no longer, but the mentality you suggest still bugs me. And why is it that they all play soccer? Is there any harm in teaching the youth of today to play baseball? I propose the world would be a much better place if all these young kids were playing baseball for an hour or two a day.) Sometimes, however, I feel an inkling in the back that perhaps my animosity towards "cloistering" is just an attachment to the world and worldy things.

I've heard people ridicule monks for "removing themselves from reality". What is more real than contemplating God?

There were great saints who completely left society, but also great saints that stayed and even worked in it.

Christ tells us to "hate our father" but he also tells us to feed the poor and clothe the naked. There must be some balance. Perhaps for some being "cloistered" is a good and necessary thing.

JHP said...

p.s. fully agree RE: hard sciences. same goes for medicine, probably law (except for Ave Maria), and other things, too.

"I'm not really concerned with quantifying the number of people who may remain faithful versus those who do not, but with setting forth reasons as to why it is not necessarily a spiritual suicide if a Catholic is brought up properly. I could argue that many would remain Catholic, but that would be a little silly as the "proofs" would be comprised of many "ifs" increasingly fantastical in nature."

Agreed. Good point.