At World Congress in Rome, Newman Society Raises Common Core Concerns
When it comes to the “educational emergency” developing in the United States, it is essential that Catholic schools maintain a strong Catholic identity in “an era of nationalized curriculum” and relativism, Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society, said in an interview from Rome where he is attending the Vatican’s World Congress on education.
“Education is not just about skill development and it’s not just about the quantification of abilities to make a buck. It really is about creating fully alive and fully functioning people,” Guernsey told Rome Reports, noting the insufficiency of a nationalized curriculum and standards for Catholic schools.
“The Common Core is this new set of state standards that’s gone in throughout the United States. And they’re very secularized, very utilitarian, very much based on college and career,” he said.
Guernsey said that it’s possible for Catholic schools to work with the standards “only as part of their much larger vision.”
With this in mind, the Newman Society’s “Catholic Is Our Core” initiative has stressed Catholic identity as the core of all instruction and pedagogy regardless of the standards employed, standards which in the case of Common Core can often be found severely wanting in crucial areas of education such as intellectual and moral formation.
Hosted by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, the World Congress has taken the theme “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion,” and will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gravissimum Educationis, the Second Vatican Council document on Christian education issued by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1965, and the 25th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Church’s apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education issued by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1990.
More than 1,000 educators, including representatives of the Newman Society, have gathered in Rome for the Congress to discuss current threats to Catholic education and ways in which educators can renew commitment to faithful education.
“As part of these celebrations, the Congregation aims to re-energize the Church’s commitment to education, by means of this World Congress,” the Congregation stated on its website. “In the years following the Second Vatican Council, the Magisterium has repeatedly spoken of the importance of education, and has also invited the Christian community to play its part in education — particularly in the face of today’s obvious, and often critical, ‘educational emergency.’”
In addition to Common Core and nationalized standards that would influence curriculum, Catholic education is also engaged in significant intellectual battles, Guernsey pointed out.
“This particular generation has a particular challenge in figuring out how to battle relativism,” Guernsey said. “And the good news that can be seen is that you can trust life, you can trust your senses, you can trust your reason, you can trust revelation, and you can put those together in a way that will imbue your life with sense and joy and meaning and allow you to move confidently in a world that seems crazy.”
“More families and parishes are now discovering that Catholic schools which boldly embrace their fundamental mission,” Guernsey wrote in his reflection leading up to the Congress. “In so doing, they will find renewed individual and institutional support and play an important role in the New Evangelization.”
The Congress runs from November 18 to November 21, when the event will likely conclude with an address from Pope Francis, who will send off the educators “looking towards the future with hope and trust,” according to the Congregation.
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