Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Vignettes from Catholic school life:

A woman in her mid-20's was in the history department. She taught honors courses.The chaplain of the school was in the habit of referring to the students, quite fondly, as "Visigoths."

One day at lunch, the young woman turned to me, and asked, "What's a Visigoth?"

A few months later, she came to me and asked for some clarifications about Emperor Constantine. "I know he had something to do with Christianity. What was it?"

Did I mention she taught Honors World History in the Catholic high school with the thousands of dollars of tuition paid by eager parents?

Of course, this speaks more loudly about the current state of teacher training than it does anything else.

Oh, and then there was the geometry teacher who spent a week lecturing his students about the Illuminati. He wasn't Catholic, at least. He was a great baseball coach though. Mercifully - for the sake of academics, if not athletics - he left the next year to go to the Episcopal school. And yeah, they've won championships since. And they're also well-innoculated against the Illuminati, I presume.

I told you that in the school in Florida I'd been preceded by a guy who taught by lounging back in his chair, sipping his coffee, shooting the breeze, and giving everyone "A's."

A student told me that the teacher has once, in a fit of work, assigned papers. This kid was assigned to write on Martin Luther. He turned in a paper on Martin Luther King, Jr that he'd written for another class the year before, "just to see." He saw. He got an "A."

Well, a new crop of theology teachers came after Mr. Relaxed departed to pursue a career as a sports agent (I kid you not) - me, a priest and a nun. Very early on, Sister was grading her first set of 9th grade test papers in the lounge. They were all pretty bad, so she graded them accordingly. The next day, same time, same place, she sat, stunned, having returned the papers. Her students had been livid at their marks, telling her in no uncertain terms that this was religion class and your religious beliefs were a matter of opinion and they couldn't possibly be wrong, no matter what they were. Never mind that this was an objective test on some portion of the Old Testament. It was still religion and didn't you know that there are no wrong answers in religion?

I'll remind you that the vast majority of these kids were products of 8 years of Catholic grammar school.

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