Tag Archives: education

The mind: A talent to be invested

September 14, 2018


Time to Crack the Books. September is here. The summer is behind us. It is back-to-school time. Whether it is preschool or elementary, middle school or high school, college or trade school, or adult education, fall is the time for so many to immerse themselves in their studies.

SolomanLearning, A Noble Christian Activity. A mind is an awesome gift from God and a talent to be invested (see Mt 25:14-23). God wants us to develop our talents and then to put them to the best possible use in order to produce a rich yield for the Master. It is the vocation, privilege, and obligation of students to apply themselves to their studies.

A Model Learner. The best example of a learner in the Hebrew Scriptures is Solomon. When Solomon inherited the kingship from his father David at the age of twenty, he was young, unlearned, inexperienced, and not knowing how to act. At this opportune moment, God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you” (1 Kgs 3:5b). Solomon replied, “Give your servant an understanding heart” (1 Kgs 3:9). God does not pour understanding or wisdom into a person’s head. It is the outcome of long and diligent study combined with the insights provided by the Holy Spirit. Solomon could have asked for a long life, wealth, or victory over his enemies, but he asked for understanding that he would know what it right (1 Kgs 3:11). It is presumed that tutors came to the palace to provide the young king with private instruction. Solomon had a brilliant mind, but his God-given talent had to be developed. He thoroughly immersed himself in his studies, and the outcome was wisdom unparalleled by any other person in Old Testament times (see 1 Kgs 3:12).

A Greater Learner. Solomon prefigures Jesus, a connection made by a detail regarding their births, the only two biblical figures wrapped in swaddling clothes (Wis 7:4; Lk 2:7,12). Solomon may have been wise, but Jesus is the personification of wisdom itself. Solomon may have been the greatest of the Old Testament, but Jesus said, referring to himself, “There is something greater than Solomon here” (Mt 12:42; Lk 11:31).

The Model Learner. Before Jesus became the greatest of all teachers, he was the greatest of all learners, as St. Luke clearly states, “Jesus advanced in wisdom” (Lk 2:52). Jesus was home-schooled by his parents, Mary and Joseph, both who were wise, well-read, and well-taught, and Jesus devoured every word of their instruction. Mary and Joseph took their son to the synagogue in Nazareth (see Lk 4:16b) where Jesus was taught by the local rabbis. Jesus gave them his full attention and absorbed their reflections, applications, and insights into Scripture. His hunger for learning was so great that it took him to Jerusalem, the pinnacle of learning for the Jewish people. At his own initiative at the age of twelve, he took it upon himself to go to the Temple, sit in the midst of the teachers, a group of scribes, biblical scholars, listen to them, and ask them questions (Lk 2:46). Jesus was in the habit of unrolling Scripture scrolls (Lk 4:17), and he often read Scripture, sometimes in the synagogue, other times by himself alone in the desert (inferred, Mt 4:4,6,10 and Lk 4:4,8,10,11). Jesus had a brilliant mind, learned from his parents, sought out the wisest teachers he could find, listened attentively, was a critical thinker, asked penetrating questions, was an active reader, and studied on his own. Jesus immersed himself in the learning process and developed the gift of his mind to the fullest possible extent. Students of all ages would be wise to look to Jesus for inspiration and for guidance in the educational process.

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5 steps to home schooling for Catholics

August 16, 2012


Before you jump into the deep end of home schooling your child or children — and even if you’re already in the water — make sure you pick up Pam Patnode’s new book on the subject.

Patnode’s been in the pool — and her “5 Steps toSuccessful Home Schooling” will help you keep afloat.

She shares what she’s learned in providing a home-based education to her own family, and even better applies to home schooling advice from other walks of life — business world best practices, for example — that seem to fit naturally to home schooling, too.

Best of all, Patnode’s work 150-page paperback is subtitled “How to Add Faith and focus to Your Home Education Program,” and although those of other faiths will find her advice useful, the parishioner at Holy Name of Jesus in Medina, MN, acknowledges that Catholics are the target audience.

Maybe that’s obvious from Patnode’s first step: Pray.

And she’s honest enough to point out that, if you decide to home school, you’ll need to pray. She writes, “Home schooling your children will likely bring you to your knees more often than few other things in life.”

She offers good suggestions and resources for each of the steps. While some of these are relatively recently developed, others are time-tested.

The encouragement to read good literature — classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Giving Tree” and “The Secret Garden” — has been good advice for centuries.

The suggestion to use the coming Sunday’s Scripture readings as prayer with children harkens back more than half a century to “Our Children’s Year of Grace,” a widely used pamphlet written in 1943 by St. Paulite Therese Mueller, one of the first women’s voices in the Liturgical Movement.

Here are Patnode’s five steps for faith-based home schooling:

Step 1: Pray!

  • Pray alone, then pray with others. Both are important!
  • Pray first. Start each day in prayer.
  • Pray often. Consider times throughout the day when you can add prayer. Allow God to lead.

Step 2: Establish your mission

  • Ask the right questions!
  • Write a mission statement that defines your goals for home education.
  • Create a home education plan. Determine strategies and tactics to achieve your goals.
  • Review your plan regularly. Adjust according to specific needs of each child.

Step 3: Read quality literature

  • Believe in the value of reading.
  • Choose quality reading material.
  • Establish good reading habits.
    1. Model this behavior by reading yourself every day.
    2. Read aloud to your children and/or schedule independent reading time.
    3. Make reading as enjoyable as possible
    4. Limit screen time.
  • Seek out help and/or resources for the struggling reader.

Step 4: Get organized!

  • Organize your priorities first!
    1. God
    2. Spouse
    3. Children
    4. Work
  • Discern the number of regular activities and commitments in which you and your children are involved.
  • Schedule your daily routine.
  • Keep home school materials (in the area in which they are used) orderly.

Step 5: Find support

  • The support of your spouse is very important.
  • Consider joining a local home school support group or participating in or creating home school clubs, classes, or activities with your children.
  • Know where to find legal support if needed.
  • Attend home school conferences whenever possible.
  • Ensure that your kids connect with other home schooled children.
  • Take advantage of available resources for home schooling children with special needs.
Source: “5 Steps to Successful Home Schooling.” Philomena Press, Minneapolis.
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Awards to Twin Cities area Catholics put a smile on your face and a tear in your eyes

November 1, 2010


Several Catholic groups are following the lead of The Catholic Spirit and honoring local people and groups for their outstanding efforts on behalf of good causes.
The Catholic Spirit’s ninth annual Leading With Faith Awards luncheon — see story and honorees at http://thecatholicspirit.com/featured/2010-leading-with-faith-winners/ — kicked off the fall season.

In late October the Office for Marriage, Family and Life of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis named its “2010 Champions for Life”: Ginny Sullivan, a teacher at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, who for 20 years has helped generations of students take her lessons about aiding pregnant women into adulthood; teenager Patti Durham, a parishioner at St. John the Baptist in Savage who helps handicapped peers at Burnsville High; Merlyn and Bernadine Scroggins, who have opened their home seven times to pregnangt girls in need; and to the Respect Life Groups of South Central Minnesota, who pooled their resources to bring pro-life speakers to their communities.

A week later, many in a crowd of Catholic Community Foundation boosters were wiping the mist from their eyes when the nation’s largest community foundation serving Catholic philanthropy gave is 5th annual Legacy of Faith Award to Jerry and Delores Slawik.

It was at a lunch that the Slawiks had with Archbishop John Roach and local builder Larry McGough that the Catholic Community Foundation was established, and that might have been cause enough for the Slawiks to be honored. But there’s more to the story.

The death in a boating accident of Jerry’s younger brother, Skipper, was the inspiration for the the Skipper Slawik Foundation, designed to help pay the tuition of students who other wise couldn’t afford to attend Catholic and private high schools. The Slawik’s themselves used to review all the applications, but in 1996 asked the aid of the Catholic Community Foundation to assist. The Skipper Slawik Foundation has distributed more than $14 million and aided more than 1,000 students. Eyes started to mist up when testimonials were read from some of those 1,000 students, thank you notes to the Slawiks for helping them attend schools that they never thought possible.

Delores Slawik shared the credit with members of the extended Slawik family, the staff of the Catholic Community Foundation, and especially Judy Sheehan, who has worked for the Skipper Slawik Foundation for 56 years.

“I think God is with us (in remembering Skipper through this scholarship fund). He was a little boy frozen in time, and Jerry has kept his memory alive.”

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