The Catholic Teacher and The Need For Courage
This week at Going Deeper we began the first in a two-part series on the need for the Catholic teacher to reflect upon the virtue of courage. You can see some of this week’s video at the bottom of this post.
After almost two decades involved with Catholic schools I’m coming to think that courage is increasingly becoming the rarest and simultaneously most important character trait we need to find in ourselves, encourage in our colleagues and mentor in young staff.
The focus on courage in this weeks Going Deeper episode began with a reflection upon some rather confronting words from the Church’s document The Catholic School. It states:
The democracy of the dead is one of G.K. Chesterton’s mpst famous sayings. In the podcast above I share a few ideas about the role of tradition and why the democracy of the dead is such an important idea.
A Perfect Afternoon…
It’s been a great afternoon. Late summer. Riding down a long hill to pick up one of my kids from her first foray into the world of big school.
Bikes never lose their appeal. Something about coasting along with the feel of warm wind on your face and arms takes you back to the best of childhood.
I stopped off at a local Church calibrating my available time to fit in a rosary before making sure I arrived when the bell rings for the end of the school day.
What is happening in Catholic sex education in schools?
In this recent talk, Jonathan Doyle outlines some of the big picture issues.
Ladies and gentleman a very good afternoon and a genuine thanks to Dr. Tonti-Phillipini for the invitation to be with you today. I look forward to traumatising you, I mean sharing with you the latest news from the front lines of Catholic sexuality formation in our school system where the words of John Paul II that, ‘we are engaged in the front-lines of a lively battle for the dignity of man’ have rarely rung more true.
C.S. Lewis is the gift that keeps on giving!
Along with G.K. Chesterton he is one of the great masters of what modern political spindoctors would call ‘cut-through’ – the ability to reach a large audience with a simple but powerful message.
This week in the Going Deeper Online Catholic Staff Professional Development Program we looked at one of Lewis’ greatest statements.
In his typical common sense style he went after an idea that is pervasive in Catholic Education. It’s an incredible destructive idea that seeps into endless staff rooms and especially endless Religious Education classrooms. It’s probably the root cause of the lack of ‘missionary zeal’ that pervades so many schools and the hearts of so many teachers. It’s simply the idea that Jesus is, ultimately, despite all the nice mission statements in Catholic school reception areas across the country, just one option among many and the last thing we should do is take him too seriously or even worse teach our students that he was who he actually said he was and actually mean it when we teach it.
I am sitting here on holiday and it’s about 6am.
The sun is climbing up over the Pacific and life is bliss.
I just prayed the Divine Office….as you do on holiday and today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila.
Teresa is an absolute giant of the faith. A spiritual master of the deep contemplative life and a friend of the great St. John of the Cross.
Together they brought about a deep and holy reform of monasticism at a crucial time in the Church’s history.
Reflecting on why I have chosen to be a teacher helps motivate and encourage me with my studies so much. Here I share with you some of the reasons behind my choice and I would love to hear from current teachers who enjoy and are passionate about education in the comment section below.
I really enjoy learning and want to share this with others. A special interest of mine is the application of technology to improve learning. Recently, I have been developing an online personal learning network as a way to study and reflect. I have done this through connecting with other educators on twitter and writing a blog about learning spaces. I believe teachers must be expert learners in order to facilitate the learning of their students.
3 ways to increase your trust in God
Do you ever feel stuck in your spiritual life? Are you frustrated with yourself for breaking your resolutions, continuing to struggle with sin while professing to love God? Do you dislike going to Confession? Are you sometimes a bit of a control freak? All these can be signs that you need to trust God more.
Who is in charge of your spiritual life? If you answered, “I am,” think again. Only God can draw you closer to Him through grace. Only God can give you supernatural contemplation, which is necessary to reach the higher stages of the spiritual life. Only God can reach deep down to root out those sins you don’t even know you are committing.
Here are three points to ponder as you work on increasing your trust in Him. Ask yourself if you:
In this weeks video for Going Deeper, our popular new online Catholic staff formation program, I spent some time looking at the very foundation of Catholic education.
To do this, we explored the engineering marvel that is the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
The foundation of the Burj Khalifa is over 50 feet deep and consists of 192 columns, each 1.5 metres in diameter, with 55,000 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 22 million hours of combined labour.
The result is a structure that is almost one kilometre high.
I spoke at a parent seminar last week on preparing young men for the journey of puberty.
I made all the links and recordings free for download HERE
At the end of the evening I had the chance to speak with some parents and it is here that you often get a deeper insight into the issues that beset young people and the parents who love them.
The parents I spoke with had a son who is extremely gifted as an athlete. He could not be more than 12 but he suffers with anxiety that at times can be paralysing.
Step back for a moment and really think about that. He is barely 12 years of age and is already dealing with chronic anxiety.
I am not a mental health professional and this is not a blog post about anxiety as such.
What I want to do is make the suggestion that in a great Catholic school, so much can be done to really help young people develop through many of the challenges that they face.
Let me give you an example. When I attended a Catholic high school the only focus in my life was elite sport. I built my entire life around playing at the highest level.
The problem, however, was that my natural disposition was highly strung and I had no idea how to deal with nerves before competition.
Years later, having read endless books on sports psychology and studying great athletes I now realise that all I needed to do was dial down my preparation.
Some people benefit from trying to move themselves into an aroused psycho-physiological state before competition but many don’t.
Back in high school, I was essentially peaking two days before any event and then arriving at the competition day completely fried.
Years later, when I was coaching in a Catholic high school I can remember coaching a student who was quite similar. Any yelling in the dressing room would make him very edgy and nervous.
In the end I think I got him listening to jazz in the moments before kickoff!
So what I learned all those years later was so simple. Why did no one tell me about it when I was in school?
Here’s my point. For years I have been saying that you don’t need a huge number of ideas to change your life. You just need one good idea that you’re prepared to actually use.
Can I suggest that a great Catholic school will be a place where committed staff are always on the lookout for the word or insight or suggestion that needs to be spoken into the life of a young person.
I think of this young boy whose parents I was talking with. What he needs is a couple of coaches or teachers around him who can simply, gently and repeatedly do two things:
1. Help him understand that his athletic gift is part of him but not all of him. When young people identify with only one skill then their entire psyche gets easily threatened by failure.
2. Teach him the simple skills of relaxation via music or breathing so that he can self-soothe and dial down the pressure.
Yes, this is a partnership with parents but teachers spend so much time with young people that they can do much to help when they face genuine issues.
So, here is the challenge. As a Catholic educator you have the opportunity to be attuned to the challenges that young people face.
Any student, on any given day could be carrying any number of burdens and a word or a suggestion or some encouragement from you could make a huge difference.
In the comment box below share an experience where you have spoken into the life of a young person.
Also, make sure you check out our new online teacher formation program HERE
Every morning I run. It’s usually below zero this time of year but it is just the best time of the day. Nothing beats it. In recent years I’ve also discovered the joys of the podcast. Seriously…how good is it? At no cost you can listen to some of the most interesting people and fascinating ideas in the world. There is so much darkness on the Internet but let’s not forget there is also some light if you know where to look.
Recently I discovered The Good Life Podcast by New Yorker Jonathan Fields. It’s full of all sorts of interesting audio goodness. So there I was a few days ago, powering along in the pre-dawn darkness listening to another great interview, this time with a young professor at New York University, Adam Alter. He’s recently authored a new book called Drunk Tank Pink. How’s that for a great title? His work focuses upon how much of our behaviour is conditioned by things we have no control over and that operate below the level of our consciousness.
For example, he has shown conclusively that a certain shade of the colour pink makes people behave in a more calm manner. Its effects were first discovered when used in the classrooms of tough inner city schools and then in the cooling off rooms for drunks within a certain district’s police stations – hence the name of the book, Drunk Tank Pink. Interestingly, some NFL football coaches took up the idea and began painting the dressing rooms of visiting teams in the same colour. At kickoff the visitors had no idea that they were probably keener to make love than war!
To be honest, in the world of business and personal development books there is a lot of what I call fluff! Over the last two decades I would have genuinely lost count of the sheer number of books I have read in these areas and unfortunately, so few really stand out.
I guess that many of the principles have coalesced into my broad understanding of business and personal development but to be clear, so few really stand out. So I’m pleased this week to be sharing with you some great insights into a book that i think does stand out and does communicate some insights that will really stand the test of time.
Why? What makes this book so different. I think it’s simply because the insights that the book shares are built on much more than latest management, business or personal development theory. There can often be so much noise around the latest theory or the next big thing – but when you dig down its often not that remarkable. What makes this book different is that it is built on insights based around integrity and character and these two crucial aspects of both success and what it means to be a truly authentic human person – can’t be faked. It’s easy enough to write a business or personal development book based on your PhD thesis or a subject you might be teaching in an MBA program. It,s much harder to write a book out of principles that have taken you 30+ years to figure out and put into practice. It’s also a book where the author talks a lot about how he failed to live the insights he shares and how those failures reinforce the veracity – or richness and accuracy of the insights themselves.
Ok. so enough with the long-winded introduction. What is the book and what is it all about? This week I am going to be sharing with you insights from a book called The Pope and The Ceo by Andreas Widmer. It’s different, it’s moving and it simply makes you want to become a better human being, leader, father, mother, spouse, – whatever situation you find you are living there is something in here that will simply make you want to become more human, more authentic and more focused upon making a very genuine contribution to others and to the world around you.