As Catholic educators, we are called to love each child no matter what his or her background or learning needs are. This is what Catholic schools are all about.
Our Bishop challenges us to “go into the deep”, to be counter-cultural and prophetic. For us, this means setting a progressive educational agenda that isn’t content with improving Catholic schools but transforming them for today’s world.
There are five touchstones that guide us in our work. The first is learning is the work. Every member of our school community is a learner, and everybody is connected. To learn is to grow and we must accept that we can’t do the same thing year in and year out and be serving different learners well.
The second touchstone is diversity is the norm. Schools have been traditionally designed to foster uniformity. This might have worked when students were being prepared for work in another time but we live in a new era that values deep knowledge, innovation, curiosity and creativity. Only schools that embrace change can do that!
The third one is no one size fits all when it comes to schooling. We have to design our structures, processes and learning to meet each child where they are developmentally, socially and academically.
The fourth touchstone is collaboration beats competition. Societies have flourished when people have worked together to achieve goals for the common good. The days of teachers being in a classroom on their own are becoming a thing of the past. Allowing teachers to work, plan and problem-solve together enhances the quality of learning.
The final touchstone is the most important one of all: equity is the issue. All children deserve the same quality education but not all children need the same level of resources. Governments and systems need to work together to ensure that those with the greatest needs get the most funding, regardless of which school and where it is located.
It is timely that in reflecting on how we are transforming Catholic schooling, we pause to reflect on how the birth of Jesus at Christmas transformed the world by bringing a message of joy and hope.
By Greg Whitby, Executive Director, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
This article first appeared in the December 2017 print edition of Catholic Outlook.
At the request of Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Catholic Outlook was printed in December 2017 to connect the Diocese and showcase the good works across the Diocese’s many agencies and ministries.