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Catholic Activity: The Case for Catholic Higher Education

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The reasons for educating a child in a Catholic primary school apply in the case of high schools and colleges as well. Many Catholic educators make an even stronger case for Catholic schooling on these higher levels.

DIRECTIONS

The typical high school student tends to analyze religious values searchingly. This is a time when he tends to rebel against authority as he has come to know it. He often will take a position directly opposite the one held by his parents, simply because by doing so he expresses his desire for independence. In addition, at this time his intellectual powers are developing rapidly and he is capable of engaging in serious, intelligent argument for the first time. He is not satisfied with answers given in a catechism. He demands a more highly developed rationale for his actions.

If he has had only an elementary background in religion, he may be unprepared for pressures exerted against the faith as he advances into adolescence and beyond. In a Catholic high school and college, he receives advanced training in religion which satisfies his own more mature demands.

Commentators on the manners and mores of teen-agers agree that a desire to conform, amounting almost to a compulsion, is characteristic of this age. The typical high school student wants to be like his fellow students from the shape of his haircut to the color of his socks. When Catholic students are in a minority — as they frequently are in public high schools — their ideals and aspirations will almost certainly be weakened as they strive to conform to what the majority thinks and the way it acts. Parents who voluntarily choose public high schools, expecting their youngsters to retain their beliefs and ideals in the face of such strong pressures, place a grave burden upon them.

There are more advantages to the typical Catholic high school than most parents perhaps realize. Recently Dr. Leonard H. Watts, a teacher at the Technical Teachers' College at Melbourne, Australia, and an exchange professor for a year at the Southern Oregon College of Education, was asked to describe the high school system of Australia. He said that boys and girls generally attend separate high schools, that students wear school uniforms and that girls are usually forbidden to use cosmetics; that students get enough homework to discourage dating; that sex education is left with the parents rather than taken over by the school; and that pupils are encouraged to participate in sports to provide outlets for their physical energies. Dr. Watts was asked this question because of Australia's phenomenally low rate of juvenile delinquency, and because high school marriages and pregnancies among high school girls are extremely rare there. If you are familiar with the typical Catholic high school in America, you will find a remarkable correlation between the Catholic and Australian systems.

If finances permit, encourage your child to attend a Catholic college. Of the hundreds of Catholic institutions in the country, he can doubtless find many which offer courses in which he is interested. Catholic colleges and universities, like Catholic schools on lower levels, have scholastic records which equal and sometimes excel those of secular institutions generally.

The student of college age usually dates; if he attends a Catholic institution and has Catholic classmates, he is more likely to date Catholic girls. Since many marriages begin with campus courtships, the danger of his entering a mixed marriage will be almost automatically reduced by his choice of a college.

Catholic college training will cap his knowledge of his faith and will give him a complete intellectual basis for belief. He will also be more likely to be governed by idealistic motives in choosing a career. He will learn to serve God and man and in doing so will be equipped to achieve far greater happiness from his life's work than one who takes up a profession only for secular or materialistic reasons.

A Catholic college education is especially recommended for young women. Here, emphasis will be placed on motherhood as a career. A common fault of secular colleges is that they educate women primarily for careers outside the home. In this process the desire to be a mother and a home-maker is weakened, if not destroyed; for all too often, nonsectarian institutions give the student the distinct impression that her college years will be wasted unless she obtains paid employment and continues to further her career after marriage and motherhood. In a Catholic woman's college, training for Christian motherhood takes priority.

Activity Source: Catholic Family Handbook, The by Rev. George A. Kelly, Random House, Inc., New York, 1959

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