As he paid tribute to the contribution of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny to education, Archbishop Jason Gordon urged Catholic educators to respond to the challenge of teaching millennials and laying a foundation for the next 150 years.
Delivering the homily last Monday at a Mass to celebrate the 50th anniversary of St Xavier’s Preparatory, St Joseph, he cautioned that methods used to educate today’s generation were not capturing their imagination and it was harder to teach religion than subjects such as Math and Geography.
He advised educators to let go of the nostalgia when students “listened” and focus on harnessing the imagination and creativity of the “digital natives”.
“We know that the deepest change we have is to fire the imagination and unleash the creativity of this generation because they are far more imaginative and creative than generations past and come with far more gifts,” he said.
Archbishop Gordon said the readings of the day had a message for the anniversary celebration. The First Reading, Hebrews 1:1–6, told of the ways God spoke to human beings through time. As God changed the ways He communicated, educators too have to change the way they communicated “for the ages that are coming”.
He noted the text went further in stating that humans were placed even higher than the angels and any created being that ever existed. Archbishop Gordon said this gave the first foundation for the Church and for education— “every single human being is deserving of dignity and deserving of achieving the fullest potential”.
Racism, sexism, and all the “isms” have no part in the Catholic education system. Archbishop Gordon added, “It means we can never call a child stupid, lazy or dumb…the problem is not with the child; the problem is we are not seeing the way to bring that child to full flowering…it means that the starting point for the Catholic curriculum is not in teaching a curriculum; it is in teaching a child to become the best versions of themselves”.
He called for “child-centred” education which catered for the child’s giftedness, their particular learning style and helped them achieve excellence in the midst of life’s challenges.
He commended the Cluny Sisters for their “incredible commitment” to education and development of Church and the country. Archbishop Gordon highlighted their high standards and reputation for “no-nonsense discipline”.
He said they produced women of incredible quality who were willing to make a contribution. “That has been a very important part of the Catholic education gift to our country,” the Archbishop said. – LPG