As parents and teachers struggle to figure out what to teach in the face of a climate of anti-Catholicism, there are steps you can take to teach common sense in your classrooms.
CBC News spoke to two Catholic educators about what it takes to teach it in the classroom.
Talk to your children about Catholic teaching When a parent asks you what to say to your child, or even how to ask your child questions, talk to your kids about Catholic teachings.
“What are the teachings of the Catholic Church?
What is the way that the Church teaches and the way it’s been lived and practiced by the Church over the centuries?” says Mary McLeod, a principal in the English department at the University of Toronto.
“It’s a question that is really important for children to ask.
And the answer to that is the Church’s teachings.”
In many ways, the Catholic church teaches the way we live today.
McLeod says the lessons children learn about the Church can help them better understand the teachings that the Catholic faith teaches.
“The more we understand the church, the more we can be in a position to talk about the truth, the greater our understanding of the truth,” she says.
“And then if we have the tools to be able to be a part of a dialogue about the church with our children, we can move forward and teach our children the truth.”
McLeod is also a spokesperson for the National Association of Catholic School Principals.
“In some respects, the church is one of the last bastions of Catholic teaching in Canada,” she explains.
“Because the Catholic teaching is so important for many families, it’s very important to know that it’s a part and parcel of our religion.”
The teaching on marriage and family is one that is also important to Catholic families.
“We talk about marriage and the family, but we also talk about family life,” says McLeod.
“So when parents talk about their faith in the context of family life, it can be a very powerful message to children that they can trust in that teaching.”
Read a book or two in the school library If you’re a parent who doesn’t want to be forced to read a book at home, a library or book-sharing site is a great place to start.
The Catholic library, for example, offers more than 200 books and has hundreds of books available for rent.
It also has a library for children, and books are available to families for free.
Some Catholic schools also offer online materials, such as eBooks and e-books.
“There are a lot of Catholic school libraries around the world,” says Christine Fournier, a teacher at the Catholic High School of the Sacred Heart in Halifax.
“If you don’t want the pressure to be on your kids, you can still get a good library book at a local library or in a local book shop.
It’s really not too much work to be done.”
Practice reading aloud with your children One of the best ways to teach your kids to read aloud is to read from the Bible.
“I think a lot about reading aloud the Bible, and it’s not just because of my personal relationship with it, but I think that reading from it is an amazing way to share the faith with children,” says Laura O’Connor, a mother of two in Vancouver.
O’ Connor is a teacher and principal at a Catholic high school.
“One of the things I love about our school is that we’ve got a Bible-based curriculum.
We’ve got our Bible and we’ve also got the books of our day, and we do that by reading aloud from the text,” she adds.
“A lot of the children I have with me now, they’ve never had a Bible in their hands before, and so when I read aloud from that book, they know that they’re reading from the Word of God, and that it has been preserved in the Bible.”
O’ Conners says reading aloud also teaches kids about the meaning of the word “truth.”
“It tells them that truth is what we do, and what we believe,” she said.
“You don’t have to be an expert to know it’s true, but you have to know how to say it and to use it.
And that’s what’s great about reading from Scripture.”
Listen to your students’ stories The Bible and the Church have long been part of the fabric of Canadian culture.
“When I talk to people about how their parents raised them, I ask them what they did with their parents’ teachings and what their faith is about,” says Anne Fenton, a professor of history and cultural studies at the Université de Montréal.
“For a lot the people I talk with, there’s a deep connection between the stories they tell and the teachings they have.
So they’re very well aware of the stories that they tell about their parents.”
That knowledge can help you better understand and respond to their stories. 5