Sunday, December 4, 2011

Curriculum for the Soul

A just laicism allows religious freedom. The state does not impose religion but rather gives space to religions with a responsibility toward civil society, and therefore it allows these religions to be factors in building up society. -- Joseph Ratzinger
There are areas in which public schools cannot do well but public school teachers succeed, and dealing wisely with the soul of a child is probably one of them. Be patient here, please: I am aware of and endorse the constitutional restraints on religion in public schools. I share with my separationist friends a distrust of religious activity by the state and many doubts about government’s ability to deal adequately with issues of faith and morals.

But we should remember that not only do the courts forbid any action by government schools not prompted by a “secular primary purpose” or which would “principally and primarily” aid religion; they also forbid any that would inhibit it, and they further require that these conundrums be resolved without creating “excessive entanglement” of government and religion. Much of religious parents’ dissatisfaction with public education undoubtedly arises from concern about the possible negative impact of public schooling on their children’s faith and morals.

Teachers may want to reconsider practices that could inhibit the development of faith in their children, and consider practices of general application that would accommodate grace without overstepping the bounds of law.

To examine these issues further, see Jacob’s Children and Ours:
Richard of St. Victor’s Curriculum for the Soul


-- WAC