A Catholic education

When I was about 11 or 12 my Mum decided to remarry and back in that era, religion enjoyed an unhealthy respect in the community. The brand was serious too. The war between the Catholics and the spin off Anglicans was still going strong and any suggestion that this was one and the same God could lead to violence.

Things have improved a long way since then.

Remarrying was a big step especially when Mum was nominally an Anglican and Poppy Bill a Roman Catholic. The Micks insisted that the partner must convert before the marriage could take place and there was also the requirement that the children must be raised as Catholics.

This meant we kids moved from a State school to the Catholic school system and the differences were stark. At the State school the subject range was boarder, while the Nuns brooked no mucking around and controlled their classes better. That’s plusses on both sides but in the final wash up the State system gets my vote because of not wasting the first hour of the day on religious instruction.

Yep. As incredible as it seems now, the most productive first hour was used to try and indoctrinate us kids into blindly following the Faith. Having missed the first 4 years of the indoctrination program, I was never really convinced by their dogma and I had put that down to the late start but seeing so many lapsed Catholics around, I may have done my fellow students a dis-service.

In the end I attended the Secondary College too until reaching the equivalent of Year 10. Then we moved to Geelong and I escaped to a State Technical college that left the Catholic system for dead. Even in the Catholic secondary school, the waste of the first hour continued and I’m still surprised kids graduated to Uni from their system.

Of course Sport was a rare subject at the Catholic College because the hours had to be pinched from somewhere and you didn’t get marks for a subject like that. But there must have been other subjects that were thinned down as well to make up the hours.

Did I send my own kids to Catholic education? Hell no. I wanted them to get on with learning and avoid the negativity that underpins the requirement to “be saved”. I also liked the fact that State schools build confidence in individuals rather than the collective as we saw at inter school events. No soloists from the religious schools but plenty in the State system.

Maybe the Catholic system has moved on from the bad old days but who can tell? Perhaps protecting your kids from the real world (though maybe not the Priests) is more important for some parents than more hours on the books.

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7 Replies to “A Catholic education”

  1. I got my graduate degree at a Catholic university, and thank the Goddess I wasn’t forced to undergo any indoctrination before entering. The faculty was at pains to encourage “religious and ethnic diversity” at the school and were actually tickled when I said I had been raised Buddhist. (I didn’t mention that I had attended an Anglican church for six years before that.) The university had very deep roots in Irish Catholicism and had an Irish Studies department (which shared faculty members with the English department). Otherwise, they tried very hard to play down the Catholicism. Maybe it was just that school or the fact it was in the US. I do remember being startled when one day I got lost and wandered into this older building with dark, winding hallways, and almost ran into a nun in flowing black robes. At first I believed she was a ghost, until I thought, ‘Right, this is a Catholic school!’ But she seemed equally surprised to see me. I suppose she wasn’t used to seeing pagans running around the school either.

    1. I have heard there can be a wide variation across the Church schools and especially some like the Jesuits seem to promote a more intellectual faith.

      It sounds like you have experimented with various Gods, HG which should be applauded. There is quite a range to choose from rather than just accepting whatever you get born into.

  2. I remember all the hatred that went on between us Methodists and the Catholics whose bigger church was just around the corner. Maybe a large part of it was ‘cathedral envy’…..I’m just happy that a lot of all that nonsense has disappeared.

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