The Catholic identity of schools today is being challenged by processes of pluralisation and secularisation. While school communities used to be considered more or less homogeneous, nowadays schools are characterised by increasing diversity and a diminishing interest in the Catholic faith tradition, among students as well as teachers.
How can schools today maintain and strengthen their Catholic identity, while simultaneously remaining open to diversity and otherness? How can the Catholic faith tradition stay relevant for young people today in a way that takes their individuality into account?
The model of the Catholic Dialogue School, developed at the Catholic University of Leuven, provides a theological framework and a pedagogical strategy for schools that want to enhance their Catholic identity.
On the one hand, it supports principals and teachers in ‘translating’ Catholic teachings so that they become more life-giving and inspiring for students. On the other hand, it encourages schools to enter into dialogue with other traditions and ideologies that are present at school and in society. After all, it is through this dialogue that one’s own identity can be strengthened and deepened in a mutually enriching process.
In the words of Pope Francis:
“If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society.
"[…] This culture of dialogue, which should be included in all lesson programs like a red thread, will help teach young generations to avoid and resolve conflicts in a different way than we're used to."
Through five extensive modules of this MOOC, you will become acquainted with a new vocabulary and theological framework regarding Catholic school identity. You will learn, in an active way, about several quantitative instruments to assess the Catholic identity of your school - alongside practical theological instruments to strengthen and enhance it.
The course has five components.
At the heart of any Catholic school is its people: its teachers, administrators, staff and volunteers; its trustees and board members; its parents; and of course its students, the very reason for which the school exists. When we want to describe the identity of a Catholic school today – with the aim of enhancing its future identity – we first look at how the individuals within the school relate to faith.
In this section, we turn from studying how individuals relate to religious content, to how they see their school relating to the Catholic faith tradition – that is, we move from personal perspectives regarding religious belief to how those same individuals perceive the identity of the school itself. You will learn how to assess Catholic identity and will be invited to think about how to strengthen it.
In this section, we look at how cultural, moral, and religious diversity are treated in a Catholic school community. Here we will examine how individuals evaluate their current school environment and how they envision their ideal one. A school can respond in many ways to diversity, and to consider what these responses might look like in practice can help to support a Catholic school's future development.
In the synthesis, we bring all three perspectives together to see the school in its totality. We will take a look at the subpopulations and intercorrelations to have a broad and deep understanding of the identity of the school. The shift to a Recontextualising Catholic Dialogue School will be handled together with a case study.
From Individual Identity to School Identity
Finally, the possibility of setting up the School Identity Research in your school will be explained, as well as the analysis of meta-data to see on a more global level (group of schools, longitudinal perspective, diocesan perspective, etc.) how Catholic School Identity is developing.
All components are supported by knowledge clips, lectures, exercises, examples, online questionnaires, discussion fora, practical issues, case studies, etc.
Didier Pollefeyt, Roger Burggraeve, Jan Bouwens, Mike Richards and Chelsea Schofield