NUMBER 15 – NOVEMBER 2017
DISTURBING WORDS: MISSION AND COMMITMENT
Since the beginnings, the community of the Brothers of the Christian Schools has worked for the human and Christian education of children and adults. In the France of the closing years of the seventeenth century, they realised that their mission went far beyond the classroom and the teaching of catechism. As older brothers to their pupils, they were leading them in the paths of knowledge, helping them to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. They taught them social manners through the rules of good behaviour and politeness, and above all they introduced them into the Christian society of the time through liturgical and sacramental practices adapted to their level. As lay schoolmasters rather than clerics, they understood the secular value of the school, and they learned to dialogue with the society in which they were situated, without neglecting their profound faith and religious convictions.
Their schools were explicitly Christian, and they laid the foundation for modern pedagogy. It is no longer possible to maintain the historical view that pedagogy was born during the Age of Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, because already at the end of the seventeenth century De La Salle and other educators in different parts of Europe had produced a systematic pedagogy with profound Christian roots, whether Catholic or protestant.
In this issue Number 15 of our Digital Journal of Lasallian Research, we are beginning a dialogue on the subject of the teaching of religion, catechesis and education in the faith… these are disturbing words reflecting a journey that is continuing into the twenty first century. Of course, this issue only claims to be the start of the discussion and to point the way to a more profound discussion about what gives us our identity, namely an educational mission with a Christian character.