Sm,—We do not need to read The Times to realise how very necessary it is to do something about the spiritual welfare of the rising generation. " Catholic Teacher " sums it up only too well.
The violent upheaval in the educational world has proved that after an absence from school protracted beyond the ordinary holiday length,
children gladly miss Mass without any excuse, let alone reason : that even the simplest prayers have to be learned all over again, that religion, in fact, has suffered the fate of secular subjects. What is the teacher's problem? It started with the 1870 Education Act, which gave the teacher so much Influence over the child that parents, themselves victims of an industrial world, only too readily handed over the religious responsibility as well.
It has been steadily aggravated by the
separation of religious knowledge as a " subject " on the curriculum by the examination system and by the whole educational system of the last 70 years, which has laid stress on man-made rather than on God-made things: on a growing absence of fear of God, produced by a neglect of the Old Testament and a sometimes sentimental attitude to the New; on books, and books about books, rather than on simple faith derived from natural observation.
That mere knowledge is not enough was known to St. Paul, but it is also known to the teacher of a class which secures an "excellent" report from a Diocesan Inspector, and who knows that if only the Inspector were to ask " How many were at Mass and Benediction on Sunday? How many were at Confession or Holy Communion since a month ago? " he would find it hard to reconcile the answers with the answers which demand mere knowledge.
It has been known for a child who scarcely ever visits the church positively to shine at a religious inspection. That Is the teacher's problem; but it is also the parents' problem and the parish priest's problem. The teacher cannot be left to tackle it alone; there must be three.
definite co-ordination between the The parish priest must get the parents to a. full realisation of the situation; the teacher must be trained to teach religion (the Americans are far ahead of us in this, witness, e.g., the De Paul publications, obtainable in England at Coldwell, Red Lion Passage, Holborn); both parish priest and teacher must make use of the Old Testament to instil that necessary "Fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom." To do this the effort will have to step far outside the boundary of school and of church; it must seep into the daily lives of the people. Apathy there is in plenty, and only too frequently an imagined opposition; after five years spent between two universities and much experience of inspectors of schools can only say that I have met with the utmost courtesy, kindness, and consideration; never once the slightest opposition, always help: I have, in fact, experienced most help where I was led (by over-jealous Catholics) to expect bigotry of a virulent kind.
It makes one think, as a teacher,
that, above all, the right attitude to these not of the Faith must be inculcated; they will never he won over except by the living example of a good Catholic, and it is the good Catholic that the teacher wishes to send into the 's should be taken to assess Statistics taw ioertlide
the leakage in schools at the moment; representatives of teachers and parents consulted by those in ecclesiastical authority; American methods to check leakage in and out of school should be studied; remedies provided to suit our own particular case. Action is certainly called for, though at the moment everyone seems too much afraid of hurting everybody else's feelings to call a spade a spade in this very vital matter.