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Flourishing in our care – the quest of Catholic Schools  – By Principal Luke Reed, Mt Maria College, Mitchelton QLD.

 Education is what survives when that which has been learned is forgotten. 

 This aphorism is attributed to B.F. Skinner, the renown social psychologist, who famously developed theories of behavioural science widely applied in fields of education and clinical therapy. 

All of us would recall the feeling of being in a class at some point, wondering how we would ever use that which we were studying, be it quadratic equations, the causes of the Roman Empire’s disintegration , or characteristics of Shakespearean sonnets. We forget far more than we remember. That which remains after all the forgetting is ‘education’, and this is what is critically important. 

True ‘learning’ is less about the content, and more about the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills, applying these, and reflecting upon their efficacy. Education shapes the way we think and act, becoming ingrained in us as part of our being. Education is formative. 

Academic learning is an intrinsic element giving rise to human flourishing. So, too, are the development of critical and creative thinking skills, social capacities for communication and collaboration, physical agilities of many kinds, artistic expression and understanding, ethical judgement, and intercultural appreciation. 

However, from the perspective of the Catholic school, the quest for human flourishing is best positioned for success when at its heart is the fostering of spiritual sensitivity and receptiveness; that ‘sense of the sacred’ and of being orientated to something far greater than ourselves. Spiritual acumen lends form and purpose to those other elements of human character. Our faith tradition acknowledges humans as spiritual beings and, in Christ Jesus, presents a vision of what it is to live life fully, both individually and collectively. Indeed, without attending to the spiritual, our human quest remains unfulfilled. 

Pope Francis has spoken of education as ‘an act of hope’, and of catholic schools as ‘communities of hope’. Everyday experience in Catholic schools is infused with respectful opportunities to engage with the Christian notion of the human person, the vision of whom we are called to become. 

Moreover, this Christian vision of the human person is far more than a snapshot of when we are at our best. It also guides us in encountering adversity, embracing an authentic humanity characterised by compassion, inclusion, kindness, hopefulness, and love. These dispositions for transformation have a fundamental place among the personal qualities we seek to nurture in our students. 

We want our students to flourish in our care. This quest for leaning, wellbeing, and spiritual growth is a shared enterprise. Catholic schools seek a partnership between, families, staff, and students themselves in bringing faith and learning to life

Image: Principal Luke Reed, Mt Maria College, Mitchelton QLD.


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