Paul grew up on a farm where moral virtues such as hard work and honesty were cherished. Each of his classes has a moral lesson.
Beginning with the schools run by the Jesuits, Catholic Schools have historically played a significant role in shaping the education and character of youth. When I was growing up, my parents sent me to Catholic Schools for the first eight years of my education. If affordable, I would have studied at a Jesuit high school. During the period between 2008 and 2014, I came full circle by teaching at a Catholic school in Thailand. It was a rich and rewarding experience because I helped my students develop moral values and practice moral virtues in their lives. In this article, I examine the role of Catholic Schools in teaching moral values to youth.
Aim of Catholic Schools
A few years ago, I attended a seminar on the role of Catholic Schools in Thailand that was hosted by Father Joseph Charan. It was an excellent seminar that enabled me to better understand my role as a teacher in a Catholic school.
The first topic of the discussion dealt with the aim of Catholic schools in Thailand. According to the Catholic Church, Catholic schools are responsible for the human formation of youth. They are established to create for the school community a special atmosphere brought to life by the spirit of freedom and charity. Furthermore, they are set up to help youth to become aware of the news of faith in salvation and to help them lead an exemplary life of moral virtues. By doing this, the youth will become an agent of change for the betterment of society.
Duties of a Catholic School
Next, the seminar topic of discussion moved to the duties of a Catholic school. Father Charan pointed out that schools must first integrate the culture and faith of students, and second, integrate the students' faith and life.
We can define culture as the moral values we want to transmit to youth. Knowledge is one of these values because knowledge is the truth. Faith is our belief in salvation by following the gospel or moral values of Jesus Christ. A synthesis of culture and faith can be reached by integrating all the different aspects of human knowledge taught in school subjects in the light of gospel or moral values. In the classroom, a teacher helps students understand, admit, and assimilate moral values. This is a process of the growth of faith. Knowledge is a value, but there are other values in the process of education, too, such as honesty, work, love, and respect.
By integrating the students' faith and life experiences, youth will gradually grow in Christian or universal moral human virtues. In the integration of faith and life, students practice, accept, and witness values until they become virtues or human strengths in their lives.
Integrating Culture and Faith as a Teacher
In understanding the integration of culture and faith, it is useful to examine different theories of human intelligence. According to the theory of Howard Gardner, people have multiple intelligences. They include spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and spiritual or moral intelligence.
According to another theory, we might compare the bits of intelligence which people have to a house that has four rooms. These four rooms would include one for bodily intelligence (BQ); a second for psychological or emotional intelligence (EQ); a third for mental intelligence (IQ); and a fourth for moral intelligence (MQ.) What is moral intelligence? I would compare it to spiritual intelligence because everyone has a conscience.
In the process of integrating culture and faith, teachers play an important role because they serve as role models for educating students on the Gospel or moral values for salvation. To do this, teachers must be the manager of the learning process. They can only do this by being both artists and exemplary role model stars.
As an artist, a teacher has the know-how to scaffold or coach a student in acquiring moral values to enhance EQ, MQ, BQ, and IQ. Although changes in IQ and BQ will probably be negligible, a good teacher can significantly improve a student's EQ and MQ.
The teacher, as an exemplary role model, integrates his lesson plans with moral values so that students can grow in virtue.
A List of Moral Values to Teach Students
According to Father Charan, the list of moral values or gospel values taught in the classroom should include:
1. Faith: Belief in Salvation
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2. Hope: Expecting Salvation
3. Charity: Giving to the Poor and Unfortunate
4. Conscience/Moral Courage: Knowing What Is Right and Wrong
5. Freedom: Not Being Oppressed
6. Joy: Happiness
7. Respect: Honor Yourself and Others
8. Humility: Don't Be Proud
9. Simplicity: Self-sufficiency
10. Love: Unselfishness
11. Compassion: Caring for Needs of People
12. Gratitude: Thankfulness to People Who Do Good
13. Work: Earning an Honest Living
14. Service: Doing Work for a Good Cause
15. Honesty: Truth
16. Justice: Accountability; Judgement of What Is Right or Wrong
17. Peace/Reconciliation: Becoming Friends After Fighting
18. Forgiveness: Accept Someone for the Bad They Have Done to You
19. Unity/Community: No Man Is an Island
20. Wonder: Seeing the Glory of the Creator
How Can We Incorporate Moral Values Into Lesson Plans?
The last topic of the seminar stressed the importance of integrating moral values into the lesson plans of all subjects taught in the classroom. For example, in an English lesson, students could read one of Aesop's fables that illustrates a moral value. A science lesson on the subject of light might make associations between the values of love, honesty, and kindness and the transparent nature of light when it is shown.
Moral values should be taught in all schools, not only Catholic because our students can and must be agents of change for the betterment of society. We must start seeing our children as lamps to be lit rather than vessels to be filled.
Role of Catholic School Teachers
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn