The Role of Philosophy in Catholic Schools
The juxtaposition of philosophy and Catholic faith is one that might surprise many who consider these two dimensions under an Enlightenment-oriented paradigm.
Contrary to this common misconception, the partnership between philosophical reasoning and Catholic belief is a mutually beneficial one. It is deeply rooted in the history of Christianity – one could mention many outstanding thinkers among the ranks of Catholicism like Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas or John Duns Scotus, to name but a few.
Another striking instance of the foundational role of philosophy in the canon of the Catholic faith is the preparatory study of philosophy that every aspiring priest must undertake in order to tackle the more intricate theological matters. Aquinas’ idea of philosophy as producer of ‘preambula fidei’ is a striking example of how crucial the role of philosophical speculation is in the curriculum of studies for Catholic priesthood.
The necessity for a philosophical erudition does not confine itself to higher education. It is an indispensable component for an effective understanding of religious concepts even at a secondary school level. A philosophical education is especially beneficial to high school pupils, not just because it offers an opportunity to comprehend difficult theological ideas – it is also essential in equipping young people with a unique set of skills which are extremely useful in facing some of the most important challenges of the present time.
When one considers the role of social media in the life of young people and the influence that these media can have on them, to develop a critical approach to any content found on those platforms can be of striking importance – a critical disposition allows young people to safely navigate these useful means of communication.
The role of fake news and the challenge presented by the extensive use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology are clear examples of key issues which can only be effectively tackled by someone who has developed a distinctive critical approach to the world.
Another striking example of the relevance of philosophy for high school pupils is provided by the added value that philosophy could offer to all pupils with regards to their employability. When examining various examples of job descriptions, it is possible to observe that there are numerous references to critical thinking skills as an essential type of skill which any aspiring candidate should possess.
For the aforementioned reasons, I am firmly convinced that Catholic schools would sensibly benefit from a more extensive use of Philosophy, both as a subject matter and as method of reasoning.