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religious. Yet the justification is not adequate. The utmost devotedness and competency on the part of his teachers cannot relieve him of his responsibility as spiritual father of the little ones of his flock. In the matter of religious instruction especially, the specific catechism lessons, it is advisable, if not imperative, for him to take a personal interest in the matter-to do some of the teaching himself. At least once a week, if not more frequently, he should supplement the teachers' explanations and the usual question and answer routine by a familiar exposition of the doctrine or doctrines that are being studied. Such personal instruction is a fortiori necessary if his school is conducted by lay teachers. In this latter case, indeed, he can hardly be said to be fulfilling his whole duty to his children unless he visits the school several times a week, if not daily, even should his visit mean simply a few brief moments spent in each of the class-rooms.
As for the pastor's personal intervention in purely pedagogical matters concerning the secular branches, much will depend of course on his own equipment in pedagogical knowledge and his competency to select the best of the different methods advocated by various educationists. If, as is probably the case with the average pastor, his knowledge of pedagogy is somewhat superficial rather than really profound, it will be the part of prudence for him to adopt a suggestive instead of an authoritative attitude in discussing the processes by which his teachers seek to achieve the desired results in directing "the young idea how to shoot."
Notwithstanding the so-called progressiveness of this country in most matters, and not least in matters educational, a judicious parish priest may well advise conservative rather than strictly up-todate pedagogical methods. Fashions in teaching vary almost as much and as often as fashions in dress; and for both kinds Pope's rule is still a good
Be not the first by whom the new is tried,
As a case in point, it is altogether doubtful that the oldtime method of teaching orthography, by means of the spelling-book and "dictation," has been improved upon by any of the substitute or makeshift processes of recent years. The "look" of an English word as written or printed, not the sound of it as uttered by the voice, is what the boy or girl needs to retain in the memory.
Just here the writer may be permitted to pay a well-deserved tribute to the effectiveness of the instruction given in the average American parish school. It is part of my daily work to examine a considerable number of newspapers, religious and secular, published throughout the United States; and if there is one fact about education that is being continually forced upon my attention by one and all of these papers, it is that our Catholic schools, primary and secondary, are the most thorough in their methods, and the most efficient in securing worth-while concrete results, of all the educational institutions in the country. Hardly a week goes by in which I do not read of prize con
tests between the pupils of public and parochial schools, and in a large majority of cases the prizes go to our own boys and girls. Professional and business men in all our large cities periodically protest in the secular press against the woeful incompetency in orthography and arithmetic and elementary composition displayed by the graduates of the public high schools, and inquire why it is that the pupils of the Catholic Brothers and Sisters do so much better work. The outstanding reason would seem to be that in many public schools the teachers devote so much time to fads and "frills" and filigree that the necessary drilling in the fundamentals-what used to be known as "the three R's" cannot be given, the result being that the pupils have a mere smattering of knowledge about many things more or less useful or ornamental, without a mastery of even the elements of the simplest branches. Our religious teachers, on the other hand, have too much common sense to be led astray by the grotesque educational fashions of the hour; they teach the essentials and teach them thoroughly.
As a rule, accordingly, the pastor need not perhaps display notable activity in the regulation of purely pedagogical matters when he has religious for teachers, and such coöperation as he does proffer them may best be given indirectly and by way of suggestion. There are many other points, however, as to which his action may and should be both direct and energetic. In the first place, it is his business to see that the school building itself and all its furniture and appurtenances are such
as, on the score of safety, cleanliness, comfort, and healthfulness, measure fully up to the standard set by the public schools of his neighborhood. In the second place, it is his duty, as it is to his advantage, to secure a sufficient number of teachers, and thus avoid the all too common and ofttimes inexcusable mistake of overcrowded classes. It is a glaring instance of false economy for a pastor to consign to one Sister a number of children whose effective training demands the attentive service of two Sisters, or even three. In this connection, it is pertinent to remind the pastor that his Sisters have been engaged to teach, not to act as sacristans, musicians, sodality leaders, janitors, etc. Five and a half or six hours spent in the classroom, with the additional time devoted to the correction of written "exercises," constitute a good day's work for any woman, especially for one who has to supplement that work by a number of spiritual exercises and house-duties; and to ask, or even allow, her to do more is almost certainly to impair her efficiency as a teacher and thus in some measure defeat the very purpose for which she has been engaged.
Some religious communities of which the writer has knowledge have solved the Sister-sacristan problem by simply forbidding their teaching Sisters to have anything to do with the sacristy; and we believe their decision a wise one. Others whom we know permit their teachers to fill the office of sacristan, but it is under protest, energetic even if silent. What seems to be a reasonable plan in the matter is this: most of our teaching com
munities have lay Sisters as well as teaching ones; and if a pastor is very anxious to have his sacristy looked after by a Sister, let him engage a special lay Sister for that purpose. In all probability her services could be secured for less than a teacher's salary because of her availability for much of the domestic work in the Sisters' home. The employment of lay Sisters will not, however, solve the problem of looking after sodalities, preparing the children for the reception of the sacraments, giving religious instruction to Catholic children who attend the public schools, or conducting evening schools for working children-some or all of which services not a few short-sighted and inconsiderate pastors expect to be performed by their school Sisters. Now, even if the regular work of the teachers were not sufficient to exhaust all their available energy, it would still, we think, be inexpedient to turn over to them either the conduct of the sodality or the religious instruction that serves as an immediate preparation for the reception of the sacraments. These are duties incidental to the pastoral charge, and cannot well be delegated to others than curates or assistants. As for supplementary instruction or classes outside of the regular school hours, if the pastor and his assistants are too busy to attend to them, the sensible alternative is to engage extra teachers for the purpose, and not impose such surplus labor on women who are already burdened with a full sufficiency of exhausting work.
Anything like a due appreciation of that work can scarcely fail to lead a gentlemanly pastor to