The feeding of minds and souls

Education Matters: Readings in Pastoral Care for School Chaplains, Guidance Counsellors and Teachers

edited by James O’Higgins Norman

(Veritas, €19.99/£16.15)

Schools and colleges have become increasing difficult places to work in, not for the teachers so much as for the students who are dealing with the effects of drugs, drinking, bullying, sexual exploitation, racism and, behind it all, suicide.

But over recent decades schools which had once been seen as Catholic because of their clerical ownership, have now moved on to become schools with a Catholic ethos. It has become the task of lay teachers to undertake the pastoral work needed to help young people to become the fully rounded people and the active citizens of tomorrow. It is not an easy task, especially in areas of social deprivation.

James O’Higgins Norman, with two decades of experience in schools, now heads the Anti-Bullying Centre at DCU. He knows then what is going on. This book is a revised and enlarged edition of an earlier book, At the Heart of Education.

It draws on the expertise and insights of a wide range of practitioners and writers. Here are supporting materials which it is suggested will “allow those who work with young people in schools to locate their professional practise with a theoretical framework for pastoral care”.

Much of the material draws on experience in other countries and continents with analogous cultures. But as Ireland becomes more multicultural an awareness of these deeply ingrained differences of outlook will become more and more essential.

A good third of the material deals with aspects of religious pastoral care – also an increasingly fraught area. However, reading books of this kind we come to realise that the schools cannot do it all. Many of their ills, being the creation of society, must be cured by society. 

We saw at the recent science fest at the RDS just what the best of our young people can achieve.

This book will help those involved in education to get the best out of all our students. All those concerned in the pastoral care of students in any way will find it an invaluable resource, for both theory and practice.