Fellow blogger Judy O’Connell (from the HeyJude blog) recently started working at a large Marist school in Sydney, and she was kind enough to share some insights about her new school on her blog recently. St Josephs Hunters Hill is not just “a Marist school”, but is really THE Marist school. It is the flagship school for the brothers here in Sydney and has quite the reputation for providing a quality educational experience. For anyone who may not know, Marist schools were founded by Marcellin Champagnat in the early 1800s, a Frenchman who saw a specific need for boys’ education and proceeded to set up schools to meet that need.
I read Judy’s post with interest as I attended a Marist school as a kid. I also spent 8 years teaching in a Marist school. So as an ex-Marist boy I can personally vouch for both the strength and the gentleness of the Marist way of doing things. Because the Marists have a particular devotion to Jesus’s mother, Mary, there is a perceptible gentleness to the way they view education, with a certain respect for, and influence from, the feminine point of view. It’s not a “girly” thing at all, but it seems to manifest in a respectful gentility that is usually considered softer than some other religious orders. I do think “the Marist way” of education has a very special quality to it…
I once asked Brother Tony Butler, a Marist brother and good friend, what exactly was “the Marist way”, and how he felt it differed from the educational approach taken by other orders of brothers, such as the Christian Brothers or the De La salle Brothers… Tony explained it like this…
“Most teaching orders tend to think of the relationship between a teacher and the student as one of Master and Apprentice, in that the teacher is the “master”, full of special knowledge that is passed along to the “apprentice” learner, a sort of empty vessel waiting to be filled.
The Marist approach is subtly different, and instead treats that relationship as not one of Master/Apprentice, but of Big Brother/Little Brother.”
Big Brother/Little Brother. I like that way of thinking about the student/teacher relationship. Thinking about the relationship between the teacher and student in those terms implies that there is far more than just knowledge transfer taking place in the classroom… there is also trust, respect, wisdom, care and love.
Not a bad recipe for a learning environment.
The Marist Way by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.