Mission Report – October 8, 2015

October 7, 2015

May God bless all our adventures this term.

We return to face the challenges of the final term of our year together. Term Four is always dominated by the presence of final assessment, beginning with the final VCE exams for our Year 12 students and going right through to our Year 7 students, ensuring those assignments are handed in and all tests are completed. And what do we learn from all this final assessment? Is teaching and learning all about filling minds with the information that is thrown back under test conditions? Should this be the only experience of our young men?

The readings from the weekday Masses this first week back offer a most beautiful vision of education. Firstly, from the Old Testament we have the story of Jonah who gained his fame in the belly of a great fish. However, that is only part of his story. God had a special task for Jonah but Jonah was not interested and tried to run away because he knew the task to be a great challenge. He did not want to do that which his heart knew to be right. -‘Ah! Lord, is not this just as I said would happen when I was still at home? That was why I went and fled- (Jon 4:2) As parents and teachers we trust that in the depths of their hearts our young men already know the right path, and that it is a task of education to encourage, direct and discipline their minds to choose the truth that their hearts already know.

The Gospel tells of a lawyer who tried to trap Jesus in word games, both to make Jesus appear silly and to make himself look smart.

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him -‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, -‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, -‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ -‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus. -‘Do this and life is yours.’ (Luke 10: 25-28)

The mind of the lawyer already knew the answer to this question, but he wanted to use his knowledge to hurt another. Jesus’ response is a most brilliant moment in teaching. He does not lecture or scold, or try to match wits to show he is the smartest person in the room. Instead, Jesus invites the lawyer to acknowledge with his heart what his head already knows. As a teacher, Jesus is concerned that the whole person be captured by the beauty of this truth, and gently creates the moment for this to occur.

Exams and assessment do have an important role to play in education. But it is only one part in the overall power of education. St Patrick’s College should actively seek to offer those moments when the truth that we all share, the divine source of the deepest desires of our heart, can be named and celebrated. This is one step in offering an education worthy of our young men, and an education blessed by God.