Redeeming and Repairing or Further Damaging a Sullied Reputation ?
Given the current climate and it’s negative attitude towards both Catholic schooling and the value of denominational schools, it can be disheartening, upsetting and surprising when principals take a highly bureaucratic approach to dealing with parents. We may say on our websites that we are open to all, we may speak of partnership and diversity, of welcoming those of other faiths or of none, but our actions and demeanour can often speak louder than our words.
Our schools will not be considered positive places of learning where parents are welcomed as respected partners if we continue with an autocratic or stern approach to them, or indeed to teachers, other staff members or children. The Dublin Archdiocese, the Church in Ireland and its schools is striving to move beyond the cold, bureaucratic authoritarianism of John Charles McQuaid and others like him.
What does a closed, bureaucratic attitude do to dispel peoples’ negative attitudes towards the role of Catholicism in education?
Is it really reflective of the ethos of any Catholic school, of any Irish school to create an atmosphere of them and us, with parents put firmly in their place?
Does it create an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding, or does it create one of mistrust where children loose out and where people continue to see Catholicism as as an authoritarian religion that seeks to control people ignore their needs?
Many founders of religious orders sought to reach out to the marginalised, when communications and plans are written using language that demands rather than respectfully expects parental cooperation, when schools are not open and welcoming, many, if not most, parents become marginalised and damage is done to an ethos inspired by the goals of Catholic education and the ideals that inspired the founders of religious orders.