Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday April 29th

In hot sunshine yesterday, to Fulham, where I got caught up in the massive football crowds. It was good to escape and settle down at my destination, the pleasant study where I handed over the entries for the judging of the Catholic Young Writer Award, sponsored by The Keys, the Catholic Writers' Guild of England and Wales. A winner and two runners-up will finally be chosen - no, I'm not giving their names until they have been personally notified - and the winner will come to the Writers' Guild meeting in a couple of weeks' time, to recieve the shield, cheque, and certificate. A number of Certificates of Merit were also awarded, including several to one particular school which sent in a good number of entries. In fact, the enthusiasm shown by this particular school, was such that it was decided to award the school itself a certificate - the first time we have done this.

Discussion on this blog re home-education, ie families not sending their children to school but teaching them at home. Of course this is an excellent thing for families that want to do it - and was standard for daughters in middle-class and upper-class homes throughout the 19th and well into the early part of the 20th century. And the families that do it today tend to be those who tackle it with great dedication, and produce superb results. But it would be terribly cruel for the Church to announce this as the norm: it's like suggesting that because some families can cope well with ill or frail elderly relatives, there is no need for any care-homes or visiting nurses, or day centres! I know a number of families who educate their own children at home - they tend to be highly committed, and if they are Catholic they tend to be v. devout, keen on lots of Latin etc etc. All very delightful and splendid. But what about all the other children in Britain? Are we meant to mumble that "it's up to the parents" and ignore their needs?

SALVE REGINA the title of a beautiful new hardback illustrated book of traditional Catholic prayers, produced by Stonyhurst College. It was an initiative of two pupils and is the result of research among some of the College's fabulous collection of old manuscripts. The result is a feast of medieval artwork, together with a collection of prayers, some taken from the Sarum Primer. It also has the whole Rosary - including the new Mysteries of Light - and an explanation of how illuminated manuscripts were made (did you know that the thick ink was made by boiling oak-apples, and that the bright blue colours came from lapis lazuli from Afghanistan?). Warmly recommended: £12.95p from St Omers Press. Contact or phone 01254 836345 Jan Graffius.


Anonymous said...

The problem is the economic fact that most parents can't afford to educate their children without help from the State. That produces a whole set of philosophical attitudes to education, especially to the role of religion.
In my view a Catholic school without Latin doesn't deserve to be called a Catholic school. Nor is it adequate, though it better than nothing, to run a secular school with Catholic RE and sex education.
Someone needs to set up a proper Catholic school that, unlike Stoneyhurst, those of us who don't work for City banks can afford.

Malcolm McLean

Oscott Seminarians said...

Dear Joanna,

It was wonderful to see you in Holy Week at the Chrism Mass, and to be able to support one another in supporting our priests. I thought I'd send you our blog address at St. Patrick's as promised, and if you were able to post it or send it to someone that would be wonderful... We're currently promoting the School for next year so the more people know about it the better. We look forward to your talk this term (I wish you were giving the one about the Church and women, but I think it's about the liturgical year? So we'll have to get you back). Hope you are well,


Edmund Nash said...

Of course Malcolm is correct to say that most Catholics cannot afford to send their children to Stoneyhurst etc. This has been the case for many years. Nowadays, however, most families cannot afford to home educate their children either. Because house prices are so high (and rental prices correspondingly so), very few families can afford for either parent to give up their paid job. In Cambridge, for example, the cost of a two-bedroomed flat has doubled in six years, with salaries increasing by just 18% in the same period.

People in their 40s and 50s who tut-tut at new mothers going back to work and putting their children in nursery need to realise this, and understand that their own house bought 15 years ago for a fraction of its current value would be completely unaffordable were they to be starting out now. Being a full-time mother (or father) is a luxury few can now afford, and until house prices regain parity with earnings this will not change. Alternatively, we may as a society need to forgo the economic stability and social benefits of owner-occupiership and accept that home ownership is once again only a realistic option for the upper and upper middle classes.

Frabjous Days said...

Re Joanna's original point -- agreed that there must of course be proper provision for the majority of families for whom home education isn't an option. But as far as I'm aware, there's no official Church support for home education -- quite the reverse, because we're supposed to be shoring up the (sometimes dreadful) state Catholic schools.

Re Edmund's point -- agreed that it is difficult for many families to survive on one wage (and this is a problem for society as a whole, and should be addressed by government). Agreed also that house prices are completely silly and escalation helps no-one.

*But* it's also a fact that daycare is so expensive (esp. with more than one child) that it's almost not worth it to work. On the other hand, I do know mothers who work in order to afford the luxuries of life -- foreign holidays, fancy cars, big houses. That's not the case for all, but certainly some.