BRAINTREE, MA (July 2018) – This past week the Catholic School Office (CSO) hosted a special event for our educators that was facilitated by Facing History and Ourselves. The work of our Catholic schools is always focused on ensuring that our students become thoughtful, responsible, and engaged citizens. The session that took place looked at “A Historical Approach to Contemporary Issues” and sought to raise questions about what it means to be an engaged citizen.
The CSO spoke with teacher Elizabeth Pilla, Chair of the Social Studies Department at Fontbonne Academy in Milton, about how she plans to use the information that was presented. Pilla has attended several Facing History workshops in the past and was delighted to see our partnership with this organization. Pilla explained, “Facing History is concerned with exposing students to a variety of viewpoints and perspectives in a balanced way. Then, the student can come to their own interpretation regarding the subject matter.”
Pilla said that at Fontbonne, Catholic social justice teaching is at the core of all their work. The school is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston and their mission is to work for unity among all individuals. They seek to “deepen their relationship with God and the dear neighbor without distinction.” By breaking down the barriers between “us” and “them,” they can embody the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Pilla believes that the Facing History program lends itself perfectly to this mission. The program looks to expose students to information and to give them strategies to synthesize the concepts.
Currently, Pilla and the Chair of the Theology Department, Cynthia Gadziala, co-teach a course entitled Liberty, Justice & Security: America at Home and Abroad. For the past three years their students have had the opportunity to examine the intersections of history, civics, and Catholic social justice teaching. The tools that she and Gadziala gained from Facing History have been invaluable in guiding student-centered discourse that is respectful of everyone’s opinions and creating a classroom environment in which everyone feels safe to share their thoughts.
The best part of the CSO offering for Pilla was the opportunity to be in a setting with other Catholic educators who represented a variety of disciplines. Getting to see the material from an interdisciplinary lens brought rich conversation and innovative ideas to the workshop. For more information on Facing History and other professional development workshops offered by the CSO, visit www.csoboston.com.
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Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston educate more than 36,000 students in 116 schools. The schools offer a high-quality, rigorous education that is rooted in Catholic faith and values for students age 2.9 through grade 12. www.csoboston.com
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