Teachers, Curriculum & More

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By Rebecca Teti


Fridays: Education

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Whether your children attend school or are homeschooled, this is the spot to ask questions about curricula, religious education, parent-teacher relationships, or academic concerns of any kind.

Please join us!

Rebecca Teti

Comments

  • After hearing that the NY Archdiocese is closing 20 additional schools this year, one of which being the Alma Mater of Justice Sonja Sotomayor, the question remains...what can we do to preserve our educational tradition?

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 7:10 AM by Anne

  • Our educational tradition has already been lost from most Catholic schools. Shortage of nun, priests and brothers means lay people teach which means salaries which means high tuition which means lots of people can't afford Catholic schools. Also Catholic schools today are very secularized. Teachers are certified by the state, textbooks are secular textbooks, curriculum follows state standards, etc. Other than religion class most Catholic schools aren't that different from public schools. And of course, Catholic schools by and large went liberal after Vatican II. Of course there are some very good traditional schools out there but they are in the minority. And many who send their kids to Catholic schools don't even practice the faith or go to church, at least that's the case in our parish. But the Catholic educational tradition is preserved through homeschooling which is growing by leaps and bounds, through Catholic homeschool curriculum providers like Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, Catholic Heritage Curricula, Kolbe Academy, etc. So while Catholic schools may shrink in number Catholic homeschoolers, loyal to the Church, are growing in number.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 7:57 AM by Monica (momof2)

  • I have to chime in here. I teach in one of the two dioceses in our nation where we adhere to the stewardship way of life. My two children attend our parish school tuition-free, as we are called to tithe and as long as we are faithful in that tithe, our children are able to attend school. We do have religious in our schools and our priests are active participants in the school community, as well. The educational tradition of our Church is alive and well in Wichita, KS!

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 9:07 AM by Amy

  • Amy, I would love to live in Wichita! :) The nearest Catholic school to us is 2hrs away. How blessed you are! Our oldest will be entering (gulp!) kindergarten this year....

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 9:19 AM by Avk

  • We are thinking of homeschooling. If you homeschool, I would like to know what motivated/motivates you to do it. As a former elem. teacher, I want to homeschool for more control of the curriculum. My husband says that's silly, that details of curriculum don't matter in the big picture (he's a former high school teacher, to his opinion bears weight here, aside from being my husband). He wants to homeschool so we can control our kids' social life, and I think *that's* silly, because I grew up in a very secluded community (trying to stay away from the evil world) and it was just a mess, socially. Teens still excluded each other, but it wasn't based on your make up or hair; it was based on your chapel veil and the plainness of your dress. The rivalries and drama were intense and it was just awful. So now my husband and I (who both dislike the other person's motives) are wondering: why homeschool?? I'd love to hear from those who are doing it!

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 9:46 AM by wife of a convert

  • Wife of a convert-I can honestly see homeschooling due to a bit from your side & your husband's side. Both have very good points. I am curious & I hope you don't mind me asking...and maybe this question is more for your husband due to working with the older kids, but how much do you see social media (Facebook, myspace, twitter, etc.) playing a part in school, disruption of their learning/education?

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 10:03 AM by Avk

  • My kids started out in the public school and in 3rd grade I brought my oldest girl home - I felt that she wasn't being challenged enough. I also brought my 1st grader home because he was crying every night saying the kids were mean to him (he is by far my most sentitive kid). I had also been thinking about the fact that I wanted their curriculum to be more faith centered and learn their faith along with their other subjects. We are lucky that we are able to still participate in the school's activities such as sports and music and drama. I homeschooled the oldest from 3rd to 7th and she decided this year to go back to school. We are in a small school K-8 that only has 80 students. Academically she is above the other students, she has good work habits and is respectful of the teacher and staff (a big problem in her class). She is able to stay away from the influence of the other students because she knows what is right and wrong and has just gotten above the pettiness of the other kids. She does not mind that she has few friends because her world is more than just her friends - it is her faith and her family as well as her future. I think that maybe you should look from the other side. The curriculum per se may be similar in all schools but the skills (working skills) that can be gained from being at home are very important. The work habits and the accountability and work ethics are important - you may not get that in a classroom full of kids. Also, you can teach them to be respectful and get above the pettiness and attitudes of today's kids and teach yours respect and just how to act correctly. That is what I have found. I also love the fact that my kids know their faith so much better than we did (and do in some cases) and they can always rely on it for the right path. I have not kept them exclusively out of thepublic school, but I have gotten the best of both worlds. If you can, see if your kids can participate in school activities such as sports, music and drama and then the academic at home. This might be compromise if you can do it. It is a challenge for me (with 7 kids) but I have really seen the benefits and I don;t feel like we have missed out on anything. sorry for the long response.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 10:06 AM by Nadine

  • Monica, I agree with you on a couple of points, but disagree on some others. I take offense when you say that Catholic schools are like public school because they have certified teachers, have "secular" textbooks and we follow state standards. I know I wanted a good academic education as well as a good Catholic atmosphere when I sent my children to Catholic School. Many of the parents in my school feel the same way. I teach Kindergarten and my students come out knowing their prayers, knowing how to say the rosary, and have knowledge about many other Catholic traditions. I am certainly not saying that "all" Catholic school teachers are like me, but I can say with confidence that our Archdiocese resonates with teachers with good Catholic values. Our students are accepted into many good Catholic High Schools and Colleges. Unless you are "in" the Catholic school system I don't think it is fair to pass judgement.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 5:00 PM by Catholic School Teacher

  • Catholic School Teacher - I was in the Catholic school system for my entire lifetime including college and graduate school. I have friends and family with kids in Catholic schools. I tutored kids from Catholic schools. Different people are looking for different things. The original poster asked about the traditional Catholic education which is what I responded to. Catholic schools are very different from what they were 50 years ago. Some consider them better, some consider them worse but what they aren't is traditional. So if you are looking for a traditional Catholic education, my opinion is you will find it more in homeschooling. But I did say there are some traditional Catholic schools out there (maybe yours is one) but they are in the minority. There is a traditional Catholic K-8 in my area but it extremely expensive. I am glad if you have a school that is affordable and traditional but there aren't many like that.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 7:17 PM by Monica (momof2)

  • Monica, I bet even that "traditional" Catholic school has certified teachers and follows the state standards. I wouldn't send my children to a school that did not have certified teachers. I disagree with you about homeschooling being a more traditional Catholic Education. Religious do not home school children, their parents do. Homeschooling does give the advantage of teaching traditional Catholic values (which is still present in the majority of Catholic schools in my area) and teachings more thoroughly. But homeschooling does not look at all like "traditional Catholic Schools." I too was in the Catholic School system my entire life, including my career, and so I still am. It has changed, but so has the world. God is still present and always will be. That is a constant.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 8:00 PM by CST

  • Yes, the traditional Catholic school in my area has some certified teachers and some not. It doesn't matter to me if the teachers are certified or not. What does matter to me is they are competent in what they are teaching and they are coming from a Catholic perspective. Many homeschool curriculums such as Seton use some of the texts that were used 50 years ago (such as grammar, literature, etc.). The whole curriculum is based on a traditional Catholic school curriculum and almost all the books are Catholic. Yes, of course with homeschooling there are lots of differences with schools (which is why people homeschool) but the heart and soul of what Catholic homeschooling does is what Catholic schools used to do: produce saints. Christian formation is the priority. But as I said, different people are looking for different things in a school.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 8:26 PM by Monica (momof2)

  • Hi wife of a convert! (I am one, too) When our first child (he's now a senior in high school) was old enough to enter kindergarten, it simply didn't make sense to us to send our child away for his schooling where he would spend the next 13 years under the guidance, care & influence of someone other than his parents. We wanted to be fully present to share in the joys & struggles of learning. We also felt it was our right & responsibility to educate our children, especially in the Faith. 13 years & 6 children later, we realize that - for us - homeschooling is more a way of life than just a way of learning. Speaking for myself, it has been a wonderful adventure & a real blessing for us all. The relationships our children have formed with each other & with us are priceless. I often say that I am now receiving the education (especially in the Faith) that I did not receive growing up in the public school system (& I grew up in a fairly well-to-do area where the school system was considered to be very good - I also came from a solid parish with a decent CCD program). I am grateful for the opportunities our children have had to learn at their own pace, explore their interests, get involved in the community, & remain grounded in Faith & family.

    Posted on Mar 8th, 2013 at 9:31 PM by Patricia

  • WIFE OF A CONVERT: We began homeschooling 14 years ago when my oldest started K. We now have 8 kids from a college freshman down to a 1 year old. Honestly don't recall what motivated me then, but we knew some home schoolers and thought we'd give it a go. What motivates me to continue? Both of your reasons...controlling the curriculum - and being able to teach to mastery at their pace (sometimes moving faster, sometimes putting extra emphasis on an area someone is struggling with). As well as your dh's reasons...controlling their social lives - but only to a degree. In fact, maybe facilitating would be a much better word. Many of our kids' friends are from families we already know. Many are siblings. (My 3 oldest often go out with 3 kids from another family). They also make friends from activity groups. By being able to surround them with other like minded kids through home school co-ops, etc. I feel we've given them a comfortable space to be themselves as they are growing up. And none of my kids (at least at this point) are all that interested in putting on a facade to fit in with other groups. They have friends of other religions and some with no religion, but my kids have chosen to be their friends because they are good kids and they enjoy being with them, not because there is any pressure to belong in any social group. They have friends who are home schooled, go to private schools, and public schools. Another HUGE reason we continue is family time. The reality is they simply have more time to spend together and get to know one another. I love seeing the smile on one of our older boys' faces (and they don't know I am looking) when they are watching their 1 yr old sister do something cute. Our 18 yr old has chosen to commute to college because she doesn't want to miss seeing her siblings. She is very social and very busy, yet she brightens their day by taking them out for ice cream or simply reads them a book. Would we consider sending our kids to school? Certainly, we review our decision every year. Everything I mentioned above can be achieved whether a family home schools or not. But the time together through homeschooling makes those goals/desires for our family are easier to attain. That's probably the main reason we continue. Good luck with your decision. And remember, whichever route you choose doesn't have to be forever.

    Posted on Mar 9th, 2013 at 12:17 AM by RealMom4Life

  • Realmom4life, I so enjoyed reading your above comment! What an awesome, busy mama---I love that your 18yr old daughter is so close to her siblings & brings them out for treats! Aw. :)

    Posted on Mar 9th, 2013 at 2:42 PM by Avk

  • I just wanted to say "thank you" to Patricia and RealMom4life for writing such beautiful, heart-felt responses. I appreciate hearing honesty from other people on both sides of this issue. Most people seemed to be kind in their responses, but a few, weren't.... I suppose we must, out of single-mindedness and conviction in our own decision, take offense with other's choices. I often read in many responses a sort of anger, or angst and I think that is sad. How much better it is when we all chime in with our ideas and decide to do what is best for our family, and allow others that same chance....? For the record, I used to teach in the public school system for several years, before we were blessed with our own children. Once we began playing together, and reading and cooking and exploring---I did not want to miss it...any of it. It is incredibly scary to be the one in charge of my children's education, and I'm certainly far from perfect. However, I love my children very much, and each day I try to help them be the people God wants them to be. I pray that I do it well, and that I will be open to ideas to help me reach that goal. I smile when all of our kids are talking, working and playing together throughout the day. For now, this is working for us. It's a mix of social and academic reasons, but morally, logistically, and financially we have made this choice as well. For our family, even if there were a great Catholic school close-by, the tuition is more than we could afford, and we tithe, too.

    Posted on Mar 11th, 2013 at 11:40 AM by Donna L.