A Social Justice Professional Learning Day for Teachers in Catholic Schools
A few weeks ago I was involved in facilitating a social justice professional learning day, I would like to share with you some insights that came out of that day that I think are important in informing our understanding of the Contemporary Learning Schema and a contemporary pedagogical approach in Catholic Schools. One of our research schools, St Kevin’s Templestowe attended the day, so it would be interesting to see what connections they made.
The day takes its focus from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement. This year’s statement, to be released later in September asks the Catholic community to consider a response to ‘Violence in Australia’. Using the statement as a catalyst, we develop a question that shapes the content and design of the day. This year we used the following question as a provocation ‘How do we respond to, and be with brokenness, violence and suffering within our communities?’
There are a number of insights from the day that I think connect well to our work in relation to the development of contemporary and powerful student and teacher learning. Maryanne Loughry, (Associate Director of Jesuit Refugee Service, among other notable roles) offered a compelling structural analysis framework for engaging in the contemporary world. This framework represented below, guides learners to a deeper understanding of self, others and the world and leads them to discerned response around significant local and global issues. The framework positions the learner as one who seeks to understand and has concern for the human person, and positions the ‘other’ as a human person.
1. What is happening here? (gathering information, data, stories)
2. Why is it happening? (probe for causes, connections and consequences)
3. How do I evaluate? (understand the meaning in light of culture, values, community norms)
4. How do I respond? (what is my personal, collective response, my advocacy and action)
Maryanne also suggested that this structured analysis can be part of a broader critical, systematic and systemic approach to significant local and global issues. She represented this in the following way.
‘Insertion’ Contact or immersion
What is happening in this situation? Who are the poor/marginalized/disposed?
Why do such conditions exist?
What does it mean in our faith to evaluate this situation?
What is our response?
Some Questions for a Catholic School.
Various questions were raised by Maryanne and others in the audience that challenged us to consider our practices and thinking.
How does this structural analysis align with our curriculum inquiries?
How do we engage in a theological/ scripture perspective within all areas of the curriculum?
What awareness do we bring to decisions about fundraising? Do we need to know more before we simply give money?
What awareness do we bring to decisions about immersion programs? Do we need to know more before we go? What is our analysis of the situation? Do they need what we want to do or give? What happens on return? Does it lead participants to ask ‘better/harder’ questions? Does it lead to a changed world view? Does it move the participants beyond the ‘exotic other’ and see the other as us?