Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One hundred thousand smiles

Notes from a discussion between Father Carron, Chris Bacich and teachers and educators:

Question: Should we choose texts according to our mentality, that is "Catholic" texts?

  • No! Then the novelty of what we've encountered doesn't enter, and we introduce duality. There is no literature that doesn't have to do with religion -- it engages the senses, Life, Beauty...
  • This method -- with this method, the curriculum is a way in which we recognize, people can recognize the newness.
  • There is no "Catholic" literature -- just literature.
  • We have a new way of facing everything -- even something that is wrong.
  • We don't have to face "Christian" topics. We have to face topics!
  • Because otherwise we bring through the door that which we just threw out the window. And we reintroduce dualism in the way we face the topic.

Question: The students I have are impossible to engage. Even after a semester, all but two of them are lying down with their heads on the desk, asleep. So, my question is about method...

  • Are you determined by this lack of success?
  • These circumstances are a provocation to our faith.
  • If we can't find a way to face this class with newness, it becomes our tomb.
  • Books don't complain or protest.
  • Do not be discouraged.
  • Too much attention to curriculum, methodology -- these things don't make us secure.
  • If we live something that allows us to be alive in our life -- this is the question. How can we help each other become alive? We belong to Christ because otherwise we are not alive.
  • How can we help ourselves to enter the topic we need to face in a way that can be interesting to us and our students? I need to be passionate about what I am doing or else dualism is within me. If I speak of Christ but life is just something I put up with? No! That's dualism. When I taught, I had to be myself during the hour of the lesson. Nobody could stop the students from speaking during lunch about what I had taught them in the hour before.
  • Education is a communication of oneself.
  • Just like for parents. The way you face reality. How we react, live our free time, use money -- these all become factors for education.
  • This is the victory -- education!
  • It's not a problem of communicating a discourse, but Life -- and nothing can impede us from communicating this -- even in prison we can communicate this -- even jail can be a different place if we have encountered Christ.

Question: What about students who seem to live inside a bubble and are ever more defensive against any adult who tries to make a proposal?

  • What charity is needed to overcome this resistance!We need charity to wait for something to happen.
  • How many smiles must a mother make to receive one smile in return? Maybe a thousand? This is not a mechanism!
  • So, if it's like that for an infant, before any damage, then we need one hundred times the smiles. Maybe a million times, maybe more! This is only possible if we are Christian. Only if we're so grateful, so moved by the tenderness of God for our humanity.
  • But if we get angry and quit smiling, we choose a new method -- rules, preaching, shouting.
  • What if a mother said, "A smile doesn't work, I'll yell or preach"?
  • Only if we're so happy we can be free from the results.
  • Education, care of others, it's a question of the Church, a work of the Church. Only someone who is so grateful, so free -- this is a verification of our faith.
  • Only because Christ became man -- he has a passion for our life -- there is no other reason.
  • Otherwise we complain because the results don't arrive.
  • We need to recognize that the difficulty is convenient for us, that the difficulty is there to help us to verify our faith.


Rachel R. said...

Just stunning! Marie from Naru Hodo left a link to your blog on an Unschooling Catholics list of which I am a member. I came here and read your post and am stunned by the simplicty and beauty that C&L uses to approach education, teacher and student. Thank you, Thank you for this post. I am involved in a couple of things at my parish which, along with homeschooling, prevent me from getting involved with anything else...for a time. When I am done with these comittments I am going to really look into C&L. I have done so just cursorily, but the more I read, the more impressed I am.

~Peace & God Bless

Esperanta said...


I am doing some research on Giussani's methodology and am looking for interviewees in education who teach RE.

I was wondering if I could email you?

Thanks in advance,

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."