Course Reflection (Religious Education in Catholic Schools)
Throughout my life, two things have remained constant: my unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and my desire to become a teacher. As a person of Eucharist, I feel it is my duty and privilege to assist in the spiritual development of our youth, allowing me to combine my Catholic faith and passion for education into one cohesive vocation. This course has allowed me to continue growing in my faith, which, in turn, will directly impact my teaching practice.
One of the first insights that I gained from this course was a deeper insight on the historical context of the Bible. Typically, when I read the Bible, I recognize that the stories took place in a time long ago, but I would typically leave it at that. I was always consumed with the story and the message being delivered that I never really thought pragmatically about the timeframe. While this may not be the focus of the story, I have come to realize that there is more to learn by truly understanding the rules, lifestyle, and history of the people and places in which the Bible stories occurred. Noel Cooper’s text, Language of the Heart, provided many insights about the rulers of the time, the religious beliefs and conflicts that occurred, and the customs (e.g., age to get married, life expectancy). By learning more about the historical context of these stories, I have found comfort in knowing that the people of that time had many similarities to us.
One of the main insights for me throughout this course and Noel Cooper’s encouragement to read the Bible for deeper meaning. Oftentimes, when I would question parts of the Bible for their validity, I found myself looking at the story through a factual view. Cooper discourages reading the Bible through the lens of fundamentalism, as we often lose sight of the actual purpose of the story being recorded. Whether something was embellished or written with a creative writing spin, it is important to recognize what truly matters – the lessons we can learn through the author’s revelations with God. The creativity of some of the stories, such as Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark, have truly encouraged me to use more figurative activities in my teaching. Not only will this engage my students, but it will also help to promote the idea of reading for meaning, not for facts. Through various discussion posts, I have been able to find some really great lessons that will work in my teaching practice, such as missing a bullseye target as a symbol for sin or the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly to symbolize transubstantiation.
Lastly, through various studies on morality, ethics, and teachers as sacraments, I have come to truly appreciate and see the deeper importance of the vocation of being a Catholic Educator. We are way more than just teachers; we are called to provide a holistic education to our students in which we nurture their body, mind, and spirit. Catholic education, especially the Catholic Graduate Expectations, are of crucial importance today in a society that tends to view life and learning as separate entities, which isolates religious faith from other areas of human life. Catholic education is not just a subject, but rather a way to view the world that speaks to the interrelationship between faith, knowledge and action, thus leading to the holistic development of the Catholic youth. Education in Catholic schools, through the lens of the Catholic Graduate Expectations, creates the reality where faith and education can, and is, lived out simultaneously. This course has truly cemented my belief that I am called to the vocation of teaching and that I have a purpose that far exceeds the curriculum.
This course has allowed me to continue to develop in my own faith formation, as well as encouraged me to foster many meaningful conversations about faith outside of the course. I have gained many valuable insights through reading the bible, reading Cooper’s text, and the online discussions and I know that these learning outcomes will greatly impact my teaching. I feel that the most beneficial aspect of the Catholic School System is that it contributes to a holistic education, allowing the body, mind, and spirit of the students to develop as one. Under His guidance, I will strive to incorporate the teachings of the Catholic faith into all areas of learning, demonstrating the relevance and importance of Catholic values to our future generation: the students. Ultimately, this will challenge me to continue to evaluate and grow in my own faith life.