My Writings. My Thoughts.
Does the story of the grain of wheat dying (Jn 12: 24), make you wonder what choice it really had? Can we imagine it resisting nature and deciding to live?! Yet, I wonder whether we sometimes attempt this sort of thing, acting against our spiritual natures. Is there some of this in our holding to certain ideas, to our pride, or anger? St. John in his Gospel invites us to “bear much fruit”, and to do so by loving our brothers “to the end”, especially when it is difficult. This is quite an opportunity for anyone who has ever prayed for a loved one’s change of heart! In addition to the promise of “much fruitfulness”, our dying-to-self also opens our hearts to a special closeness with Our Lord. We see this particularly in John and his Gospel.
C.S. Lewis shows the danger of relativism in education. Once a person is formed in it, he suffers the loss of “will, of strength and of creativity” (1). With regard to subjects such as math, science and language arts, we know how vital they are to a professional career. However, do we recognize that there are other subjects which make possible a life that is fulfilling and satisfying? Are not these characteristics more important than having the best job? A Catholic education is not just about forming students in math, science and the language arts, but also about learning to appreciate truth, beauty and goodness. Pope Francis in his encyclical “Evangelii Gaudium” encourages this type of education to offset the fallout from growing secularism.
(1) The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis, Chptr 1.
We are assured in Luke 6: 46 that the person who ‘listens to Our Lord’s words and acts upon them’, lays his foundation on rock. By contrast, it is proposed by powerful organizations such as the United Nations, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that a “globalist vision” is the necessary way toward world peace, sustainability and economic stability.
Who are we to believe?
Surely, the globalist ideals are laudable, but can they be achieved? What we know about foundations and Our Lord suggest otherwise. Yet, this is being proposed through radical educational reform such as the Common Core. In this scheme, traditional values will be embraced only to the extent they can be adapted to a multi-cultural, world view. Otherwise they will be jettisoned for the “harmony” of the “world community”.
Nevertheless, as during the Middle Ages, the Church can come to our aid. It can share not only the philosophical truths that bring right reason to bear, but also the good that comes through Christ’s Church founded upon Peter. Peter and those Popes following him were not the first instruments of God to propose a more solid foundation. Centuries earlier we hear Moses say:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers is giving you… Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations…” – Deuteronomy 4: 1, 6-8.
David did not have an easy life. He was not born into great wealth or high social stature. His greatest inheritance was his faith in God. Throughout his trials, including serious threats to his life, he trusts in God to deliver him. Later, after he becomes king, he continues trusting God. David regularly asks God what he thinks he ought to do. Today, through the Church, we can draw close to God and so also enjoy a closeness with God as David did. We have the sacraments and prayers and the saints to strengthen us.
With mounting concern over the Common Core State Standards, what are parents and teachers to do? Consider God’s providence. God founded his Church on Peter (Mt 16: 18) to aid our journey through life to heaven. In the 12th Century, the Church was instrumental in fostering education, and through its essential support, the university system was developed from what began as “Cathedral schools” (1). Paris and Bologna were the first two. Today, there are great alternatives to Common Core. These include a classical curriculum and a [non-Common Core] Christian education. What comprises a classical curriculum? How is this curriculum in harmony with Christian formation? These questions are discussed and draw from “What is a Classical Education”, by Peter Kreeft, and published in “The Classical Teacher” magazine, Spring 2009. For the complete article, see: www.memoriapress.com.
(1) “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization”, Thomas E. Wood, Jr., Chptr 4.
In the wake of the 2008 recession, States were offered $53 billion in “Stimulus” money if they would commit to “Four Assurances”. One of these included adopting what is now called Common Core (CCSI), a privately developed standard. According to sources noted, it comes to us without input from teachers and parents, and distances children from the good, the true and the beautiful. Missouri, one of the states using CCSI since 2009, already shows a decline in math and English language arts readiness (http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/). Daunting? Yes! But what can we do? First, consider examples in Sacred Scripture. We have seen how our plans unravel when God is not included. Second, consider the encouragements coming from Our Lady. Mary invites us to Pray. To receive the Eucharist. To go to confession. To read Scripture and to Fast. How beautiful!
1. St. Joseph Radio Presents, “Common Core Panel”, Catholic Home School Conference, 04/11/14. saintjosephradio.net.
2. Univ of Notre Dame’s Law Professor, plus 132 scholars’ letter to Catholic Bishops.
3. EWTN’s Barbara McGuigon & guest Mary Jo Anderson, Mar 29, ’14. www.ewtn.com.
4. Documentary on the Common Core: “Building the Machine”. commoncoremovie.com.
5. Summary of 10 major concerns. maryjoanderson.net.
The Common Core State Standard that is coming to our nation deserves close attention. Its aim is to raise the level of education across the United States, a goal some believe is necessary to better compete globally. However, by many assessments, Common Core is a low standard. Even its major proponent admit it will not be sufficient for students who desire selective colleges or majors in science, technology, engineering and math. There is a greater challenge, however. Common Core pursues a gravely deficient philosophy. It does not embrace forming children in the good, the true and the beautiful.
What is the impact of this philosophy? C.S. Lewis explains that the consequence is to suffer the loss of strength, of will, of creativity. For additional information, please see these links at: “Curious about Common Core?”, and also “Subtle Common Core Philosophy”.