Thursday, August 9, 2018

Toddlers In Ties

My regular correspondent has been following the progress of the home school co-op being pitched for startup next month by the quasi-Gilbertines in Calgary. In a recent Facebook post, they uploaded a stock image of very young children in school uniforms. (I assume, by the way, that to photograph children of this age, it would have had to involve a professional operation done with the consent of all the parents, with their signed releases on file -- and in fact, I still question the judgment of those parents. There is little authentic or spontaneous about something like this, despite cloying appearances.) Thanks for the title, by the way!

This is not a representation of anything that will happen at the Calgary parish; it is pure marketing fantasy:

My regular correspondent sent me a link to the absurdly detailed and incredibly overambitious prospectus -- remember, this is for a part-time home school supplementary co-op. However,
At the conclusion of their studies, students of the Holy House of Our Lady and St. John should go on pilgrimage to Rome and be taken to the Stanza della Segnatura in the Apostolic Palace for their final examinations. The walls of this historic room are adorned with glorious paintings by Raphael and company. Once inside, students should be astounded and have a sense of déjà vu. If their education has been a good one, these paintings ought to resonate deeply within them.

They may not have seen or studied these great works of art, but if the identity of the characters therein is made known, students should be intimately familiar with the subject matter that is represented by the various figures. The very curriculum they were instructed in should have been reverse engineered from the subject matter of these paintings. The artistic merit of each work of art is beyond dispute, but so is the subject matter and tradition they collectively represent.

But will they be able to write a coherent English sentence or solve a quadratic equation? That's less certain. And -- er -- this is Calgary, AB (pop 1.26 million); I think a corresponding US city might be Phoenix (pop 1.6 million). What skills and life experiences might I want a child actually to develop and have in places like Calgary or Phoenix? Also, in our archdiocese, school personnel and priests are specifically degreed and credentialed for Catholic education. Where are the credentials of anyone connected with this grandiose fantasy? My correspondent continues,
For purposes of comparison I looked at the uniform requirements of Upper Canada College, founded in 1829 and, according to Wikipedia, "widely described as Canada's most prestigious preparatory school." Be that as it may, boys are not expected to wear a dress shirt and tie in Kindergarten, or the first two school grades.
So I'm wondering if this whole proposal involves some sort of overcompensation. It reminds me a little of what my parents expected of me at that age. When I was about six, they announced, out of the blue, that henceforth, I was to address everyone -- everyone -- as "sir" or "ma'am", including my parents. For clarity (I was a bright kid, in retrospect), I asked if this applied to my schoolmates. They insisted that it absolutely did. Everyone was "sir" or "ma'am", no exceptions.

Clearly there was overcompensation going on here. My dad mostly turned up on weekends, and not every weekend at that. I don't even want to think about why. So naturally, if I called everyone, without exception, "sir" or "ma'am", that made everything else OK. Oddly, as I think about this time, there was some sort of ongoing discussion with the local Presbyterian pastor about issues. They apparently offered this to the pastor as a step to resolve issues. The pastor was apparently skeptical, and my parents were indignant. "Sir" and "ma'am" it was going to be. But since my dad only turned up on weekends, luckily, it didn't really take.

I think there's another agenda here, almost certainly among the quasi-Gilbertines, and I would guess some sort of fantasy overcompensation for something else can only be involved. Whether this sells with any parents is less certain. The people I'll pray for are the kids.