Apathy or Wonder?

Dear Families,

“Today’s dominant educational system, ordered toward the merely pragmatic and utilitarian ends of ‘college and career readiness,’ has no use for wonder or wisdom. We see its consequences in the weary apathy of students who repeatedly ask, ‘Is this going to be on the test?’ When only that which can be quantified or graded is valued, all else falls away. The factory model of teaching and learning is manufacturing the malaise, anxiety, and even despair that burden so many of the young by depriving them of the two elements their innate sense of wonder seeks to find: the meaning and purpose of things.” (Sullivan, 2019)

These words appear at the beginning of a wonderfully articulate article that conveys the purpose and passion driving Mount Royal and other classical liberal arts schools. Describing roots similar to our own, these schools are “born from the love of parents who, as the primary educators of their children, were willing to go to great lengths to restore the human dimension to learning, first in homeschools and then in independent Christian and Catholic schools. Within the last decade, this renewal has been embraced by a rapidly growing number of diocesan and parish schools that are changing the longstanding narrative of their decline. The turnaround can be seen in rising enrollment, supportive parents, dynamic academic engagement, and deeper religious formation. The most striking change in the school culture, seen by administrators, teachers, and parents alike, is the students’ newfound joy in learning."

I see the truth of these words borne in the fact that two brand new Catholic schools opened north of us in the past two years (including one named after us!), or shown by our rigorous and theologically sound curricular choices such as using the Sophia Press Spirit of Truth. Not only was this series one of only three recommended by Bishop Libasci for use in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs (after a year of serious study and deliberation), but it boasts such illustrious authors/contributors as our own Mrs. Diebold and Mr. Tremblay. And as far as enrollment is concerned, we have only to look at our current and largest senior class ever: 18 amazing young men and women who will soon take the lessons and values of MRA with them out into the wider world.

“The source of this joy can be traced to the recovery of a Christian anthropology that treats children not as future producers and consumers but as creatures made in the image and likeness of God… The recovery of authentic Catholic education reaches far beyond the mere acquisition of skills and fragmented information by helping students develop eyes to see and ears to hear the connectedness and the unity of all knowledge.” We like to say here that we are more interested in virtue and vocation, not simply college and career. We see students as individuals, not commodities to be enacted upon. And we certainly believe in the value and dignity of each person. “The focus, then, is not solely on the facts, skills, or even truths to be imparted. Equally, if not more, important is the development of the child’s God-given capacity to observe, to wonder, to discover, to attend, to listen, to remember, to speculate, to calculate, to communicate, to reason, to contemplate, etc., and especially to love. These are the habits of lifelong learning and growth.”  

In the coming weeks, Mr. Tremblay and myself will unpack more of the wisdom found in this article. It is not only a well-written and succinct distillation of our institution's philosophy, but also contains wisdom from such illustrious figures as Pope Emeritus Benedict, Josef Pieper, and St. Thomas Aquinas. What’s not to love?  Yours truly in Christ,

Amy Sansone
Academic Dean