On Giants' Shoulders

Monday, February 06, 2006

Review of a Controversial Book

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Steve Kellmeyer's books, but his recent book on parochial education (Designed to Fail) is thought provoking, to say the very least. Steve is not necessarily a whole hearted advocate of homeschooling. He recognizes that not every couple is prepared to teach their children calculus or chemistry, for example. He does, however, strongly assert that the Church teaches parents are to be the primary educators of their children in matters of faith. His analysis of what's wrong with Catholic schools and how the problem came to be is destined to provoke strong reaction. He does not, as some people do, blame the problem on post-Vatican II failures. Here's where some of the nost interesting insights are, from my perspective. He sees the connection with industrialism, clericalism, Americanism, and ultimately a failure to recognize some of the graces connected with the sacrament of marriage.

I've given this one only a very quick read through, but I could hardly put it down. If his historical research is credible there is some very interesting information here. I find it intriguing that one of the accusations he makes about public schooling is very similar to one that I used to see in Growing Without Schooling newsletters back in the eighties. The accusation was that public schools were designed to prepare people to work in factories instead of being independent businessmen, farmers,craftsmen, or merchants with independent thought.

I'm not beginning to do the book justice, because, as I said, I've only given it a very cursory read through. I believe, however, that it is an important book for parents who are serious about raising their children in the Catholic faith. It's a book that pastors concerned about the education of the children of their parish should read.

Steve contends that parishes should be putting their money into adult formation, and then expecting parents be the teachers of their own children. He has a lot of Church teaching to back up this premise. He even (gasp) suggests that perhaps we should be shutting down some of our parish schools.

Buy the book. Read it. Pass it around. Discuss it with your friends. Give a copy to your pastor. Send a copy to your bishop. The issues Steve deals with deserve to be discussed, even if that discussion ruffles some feathers.


At 6:21 AM, Blogger Karen E. said...

One might be left unsure, given some of his comments, but Steve and his wife do homeschool their own kids.


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