Young people 'not just cogs' for economy

Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 01:00

EDUCATION IS too important to be the exclusive property of teachers, of government or of patrons, the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said.

The archbishop was speaking last night at the annual Mass for the opening of the new school year which took place at Holy Cross College in Drumcondra, Dublin.

Addressing a congregation of teachers, school principals, parents and representatives from the Department of Education and the teachers’ unions, he said it was time to “reflect carefully and cautiously on the nature of education”.

He said policy should focus on the “overall human formation” of young people who were “not just cogs to be trained for the techniques of a future economy”.

Dr Martin said no one could doubt that the economic crisis “is due to a crisis of public morality”. He said young people had to be “helped to see they belong to a community and a society” and that this “invokes education to morality”.

Acknowledging that while “the changed cultural situation” required young people to understand a variety of religions, he cautioned that religious diversity in society did not mean “the exclusion of denominational education in which young people are helped to grow and flourish in the religious tradition to which they belong”.

He said that “all indications” were that parents wanted to see denominational education remain.

There was a responsibility on those providing denominational education to ensure it did not exclude religious diversity or the less advantaged, he added. Neither should it become “simply a colourless presentation of the history or the sociology of religion”.

Welcoming proposals for co- operation between Dublin City University, St Patrick’s teacher training college in Drumcondra, the Mater Dei Institute and the Church of Ireland College of Education, Dr Martin said their collaboration could become a driving force in educational training.

Concluding his homily, he said the growing religious diversity in Ireland called “not for the banishing of religious education from the public square” but indicated public interest and the responsibility of government to provide high-quality training for those teaching religion in public schools.

He said there needed to be a realisation of the contribution which Catholic education brought to education in the changing and more pluralist society in which we lived. It was a time of “very much healthy ferment in educational reflection”. However, “change in itself is not necessarily healthy”.