Page 3, 11th June 1971

11th June 1971
Page 3
Page 3, 11th June 1971 — Education: Is the trend

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Locations: Dublin, Berlin


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Education: Is the trend

forward ' Gabriel Fallon's or back? DUBLIN DIARY "I BELIEVE the time has come for the religious to revaluate their involvement in education here in Ireland." So wrote Fr. Michael J. Smith in the May issue of Doctrine and Life before the current proposals on "community schools" created a situation in which the Church might well have more to lose than gain.

When John Marcus Sullivan, as Minister for Education, introduced the Vocational Education Act of 1930 the Church made it clear that it was strongly opposed to any educational measure that escaped its control. The resulting opposition between secondary schools and vocational schools inevitably led to a division which gave birth to the "two cultures".

The current proposals of the Department of Education in which privately owned denominational sec on d a ry schools would be amalgamated with inter-denomi

national State vocational schools under new boards of management — four members of which would be nominated by the bishop or ordinary of the diocese (variously described by the Minister as "the authorities of the secondary schools involved")—is finding little favour in any quarter.

The recent annual congress of the Vocational Education Association made it clear that its members are strenuously opposed to such an arrangement. "It would be an act of political lunacy for us as a nation to pursue any further this proposal in its present form" was one of the views expressed.

The Minister's plan was described as running counter "to government policy for the removal of obstacles to a unity of minds in Irish society."

It was also condemned on the grounds of its "overwhelming sectarian bias" which, it was said, made it "totally unacceptable". It looks as if the Minister's attempt to make Irish education take one step forward

may well result in an impasse based on the contention that he has in reality pushed it three steps backwards.

Involved youth

NVI-ATEVER else may be said about Irish boys and girls there can be no doubt about their involvement in activities that matter. You will find them in the Samaritans, in the Simon Community, in old folk activities, as well as in such longestablished works as the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Legion of Mary.

A feature of evening Sunday Masses which I have been attending recently has been the number of mini-skirted and jean-clad figures to be seen at the communion rails frequently to the annoyance of our elderly pietists.

It is true, of course. that we have our "wild ones" but one is tempted to believe that this is due to the fact that we lack the Borrelli touch—not completely, though, for there are one or two priests of my acquaintance here in Dublin whose popularity with our "nonconformists" is unquestionable.

It is said that there is an amount of "lapsing" at university level. That may be so. I can speak only of one such student with whom I had recent contact. He preferred to call himself a Christian rather than a Catholic.

He talked at length of our hypocrisy, our selfishness, our exaggerated prudence. He held forth on our deliberately ignoring the "revolutionary element" in Christianity. He spoke of "the good works with which we silence our conscience" in an effort to escape from serving in "the war for social justice."

When I asked him why he had given up the practice of Sunday Mass his reply was: "I will go there when it is no longer a mortal sin not to go there".

He may not be typical of the "lapsed" university stu dent. But one thing is certain. The remedy suggested by a priest relative of his to the effect that what the young man sorely needed was a good kick where it Would hurt most, is not likely to bring him back to the fold.

From my conversation with him I felt that in time he would come to realise the truth of Augustine's contention that the Lord always restores the years that the locust has eaten.

A wit in exile

AFEW el..enings ago I listened to one of the wittiest speeches it has yet been my pleasure to hear. It came from a quietly-spoken. sadeyed man, whose well-lined face was framed in a halo of silver hair.

Born in Hungary, he left it in 1921 just in time to avoid its anti-Jewish pogroms which robbed him of most of the members of his family. He went to continue his work as a physicist in—of all places —Germany. There he became one of Albert Einstein's closest collaborators.

In 1931 he was invited to the United States, and when Einstein followed him there a year later, having closed up his villa outside Berlin, it became obvious that neither was likely to see Germany for some time. Adolf Hitler had become Chancellor of the German Reich,

Cornelius Lanczos—that is his name—is now senior professor at Dublin's Institute for Advanced Studies, where he has worked for the past 21 years. Though he had made up his mind not to stay too long when he first came here, he fell in love with Dublin.

He credits it with a style and an atmosphere which reminds him of the Continental Europe he had known. 14is is a most endearing personality and. his great gifts apart, we are delighted to have him here --Cornelius Lanczos, the man who worked with Einstein.

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