Tuesday, August 2, 2011



Robert Kumpel said...

Once cannot underestimate the respect that was given the nuns who taught us. They were apart, especially in the wearing of habits, and there was something mysterious and otherworldly about them, even though they were quite down-to-earth at the same time. When they stopped wearing habits, unfortunately, a lot of that respect diminished. Suddenly they were just like our moms or grandmothers or worse, that weird lady who lived down the street. It was hard for a small child to keep the same esteem for a woman dressed in a windbreaker and pants with her hair sprayed in place. Is that superficial? Sure. But like it or not, it's the truth. In high school, Augustinian priests commanded our obedience, but again, when we saw so many of them out of their clerics, we began to think of them as just another guy. I can still think (with great personal shame) of one priest who was so casual, that, in my obnoxious teenage stupidity, I always addressed with, "Hi Bill!" in front of my classmates. He just went along with it.
Clothes may not make the man (or the priest or the nun) but they send a signal. However, in spite of the diminished esteem I felt as a young person for the priests and nuns who shed their uniforms, I can say that most of them were good people and dedicated to helping me. A few I disliked at the time and grew to admire later. I will always be grateful to the men and women who could have led more glamorous lives but chose to help me and scores of other annoying kids. And I will always be grateful to my parents who sacrificed so much so that I could get that education and avoid the horrors of public school.

Anonymous said...

Please expound upon "the horrors of public school."

Templar said...

"horrors of public school"...for example, a curriculum that discusses the history of western civilization with only negative references to Christianity; Preaches tolerance for every "choice" available to man, but does not let you discuss or debate religion lest it offend someone; Preaches Homosexual's contribution to history as if what they did in their bedroom was the driving force behind their greatness.

Robert Kumpel said...

How to describe the horrors of public school?

I suppose I could start with the sheer horror of the unchecked behaviors of the children who attend. Added to that horror is a system that gives teachers virtually no power to exercise any kind of meaningful discipline (I know because I later taught in the public schools--which had become even more horrible).

Then there is the sheer horror of overcrowded classrooms and teachers who are relatively indifferent, or at least more indifferent than those I had in the Catholic school. In my elementary years, (1964-1973) most of the teachers were nuns. They didn't teach because they needed a good health care package or wanted a job with tenure. They taught because it was their vocation and they loved children. Even the "meaner" (tougher) nuns had a strong undercurrent of love.

Then there was the horror of growing up in a culture that is either indifferent to God, makes no mention of God or refuses to allow any meaningful instruction about God.

As I approached junior high age, we began to hear the stories of the relativistic, secularized sex education that was beginning to be taught in the public school. Another horror.

There are probably many more that I could mention. When I attended Catholic school, I felt that the priests and nuns were an extension of my family. They conveyed the attitude that my life had value. They taught me about God and the riches of my faith. They let me know that they would not tolerate me failing and would not accept anything less than a good effort, and would push me to do better than just "good". My parents and my teachers were on the same page. And I knew darned well that as much as my dad spent to put me there, that I'd better not mess it up!

That was a blessing.

Robert Kumpel said...

What horrors? Where to begin?

The horror of indifferent teachers.

The horror of an environment with no meaningful or effective methods of discipline.

The horror of overcrowded classrooms.

The horror of out-of-control bullies and thugs.

The horror of secularized sex education.

The horror of spending the day in a Godless culture.

Even the toughest nuns had an undercurrent of love that drove their vocations. They weren't teaching for a cushy retirement package or insurance benefit. They did it because they loved children. I knew they were an extension of my family and that they were on the same page with my parents. I knew that they would not accept failure from me. And I knew that as much as my dad had to pay to keep me there that I was not about to screw up.

Thank God for Catholic school.

Anonymous said...

"Is that superficial? Sure. But like it or not, it's the truth."

If the problem is your superficiality, is discussing the nuns' habits or lack thereof really the point here?

Anonymous said...

I attended Catholic schools for 22 years. For 17 of those years, excluding college and grad school, I wore a uniform and enjoyed it as it made life simpler and gave us an identity.

Wearing my high school uniform also meant that, on those afternoons when I missed the bus, I could almost instantly get picked up while "thumbing" home, since people recognized the tie and blazer.

I remember my mother was a bit surprised to find out that I wore blue jeans to class in college. I never had the heart to tell her I taught wearing blue jeans while a TA in grad school!

Anonymous said...

Horors may be a harsh generalisation, but not by much. The woman who said she picked on girls she didn't like in public school then when she went to Catholic school felt she could be good, hit the nail on the head. In Catholic School you can be kind to all people and it seen as a positive and good thing. In public you have to be harsh and part of a strong group. And you are graded by how you judge others according to the curriculum.


Gene said...

Public (read "government") schools?
Let me make this as plain as possible: I believe that anyone who can afford to send their children to private schools and does not is an irresponsible parent.

Gene said...

Anon (probably Ignotus), it is not superficial. Clothes may not make the man(woman) but they reveal him. Often, what many consider "superficial" is an outer reflection of an inner condition.

Robert Kumpel said...

I supposed that as a young boy, I WAS superficial. But was that a problem? Often younger children and their alleged superficiality can often cut through the layers of self-deception and excuses adults make for themselves. A child superficially senses something is not right, but is not eloquent enough to express it other than through the outward signs he sees. As an adult, I can reflect back and note that those outward signs had a deeper meaning, and, as a child, I sensed some of that meaning slipping away. The title of this post is "AS SCHOOL RESUMES, CATHOLIC SCHOOLS AND UNIFORMS". For some of us old enough to remember, we can recall that in Catholic Schools, it wasn't just the students who wore uniforms.

Templar said...

It's asinine to write off uniforms, clericals, and habits as superficial. They are anything but. They are silent witnesses to our Catholic Identity. They are precisely what Pope Benedict is trying to very hard to restore (Identity that is).

Anonymous said...

pinanv525 - Mr. Kumpel, not I, termed his judgment "superficial."

Anonymous said...

Catholic School Story: Our family moved a lot and we decided the kids would get a Catholic School education for the quality, if nothing else. So our oldest was ready for her first day of school and the bus stopped at the end of the block. We walker her to the corner and were going to wait with her. Being independent, but only 5 years old she was struggling with the dilemma of fear and embarrassment. One of the older kids was in the fourth grade and known to us. she spotted our girl and went over and took her by the hand and said 'hold my hand and we can wait together'. My wife and I retreated to a safe distance and watched as the bus came and a 16 year Catholic education began.

About three years later we moved across the country and found a nice neighbourhood with a Catholic School. Our eldest girl walked to the corner with her younger sisters and waited. A little girl and her parents approached, obviously for their first day of school. My oldest girl walked over and took her by the hand and told her they could wait for the bus together.

This is sort of thing kids are taught that is important. I have grown ambivalent about the value of college education and the skeptical of its value, but I know that my kids can be good citizens and operate self-sufficiently due to their Catholic education and I can say that very few of our friends with children the same age who put their children through public schools can say that.

Unfortunately for young parents I am not convinced this is the case any more, but I think the odds are in your favour with Catholic Schools.