CASC Lumen Magazine_Winter 2021

Catholic Education

Catholic Studies launched a new collaboration – the first of its kind – with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis Office for the Mission of Catholic Education, to form Catholic educators in a deeper understanding of the shared mission and vision of Catholic education, including greater cultural competency. Following the pilot program this past fall, Mission, Culture, and Emerging Questions in Catholic Education (MCEQ) is garnering interest around the country. Chief architects of the MCEQ curriculum are Director for the Center for Catholic Studies, Dr. Michael Naughton , and Director of Educational Quality and Excellence for the archdiocese, Dr. Emily Dahdah . The University of St. Thomas Continuing and Professional Education Program (CAPE) has been an essential collaborator providing the technological platform. Other instructors include Danielle Brown from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Joshua Blonski , dean of student life and Latin instructor at Providence Academy in Minnesota, Lucía Báez Luzondo, J.D. , who serves as director of the Office of Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and Aaron Benner ’92, ’95, ’20 MA , dean of students at Hill-Murray School. The course will bemade available to all principals and teachers throughout the archdiocese to complete at their own pace. The programconsists of 10 hours of online, in-person and conference teaching on the role of Catholic educators. “And it’s just the beginning,” says Naughton.

“This is a part of a much larger effort on behalf of the archdiocese to form its educators,” says Dahdah. “We have 90 Catholic schools, each so unique, but we all want to be working with the same vision, a shared language and way of understanding the Church’s vision for education.” “This is about a philosophy of Catholic education,” Naughton adds. “Catechetical programs are important, but they cannot address questions like, ‘How do I deal with math as a Catholic educator? Do I teach math in any different way at a Catholic school than I would at a public school?’ Once you take in ‘wonder’ and ‘a created order,’ you can ask, ‘Why does math work?’ Because there’s a created order. It’s getting down to the roots of a created order, the Logos.” Dahdah, who did her dissertation on intercultural competency in elementary educators through the University of Minnesota, adds that “The Church is an expert on human dignity. We’re drawing on 2,000 years of tradition, laying out a positive vision of the human person. Faith not only transcends culture, but it also greatly enlivens culture.” Naughton and Dahdah are keen to point out that the purpose of education is not simply career preparation, but to pass on the best of a culture to draw out the best in a student so as to make right judgments about the world. “The Church is an exquisite expert on intermingling of cultures of all sorts,” says Dahdah, “and a great mediator through culture as well.” She points to the eradication of legal racialized slavery in the U.S. as an example.

St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 5

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