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education is struggling to uncover the reasons for continuing levels of academic achievements, and recover its place of world class leadership which it once held. While academic levels in public schools have suffered to the greatest extent over the years, the same cannot be said regarding religious education, in particular catholic schools. These schools continue to produce higher levels of academic achievement, and more students who continue on to college that similar public schools. This research is an initial investigation into possible reasons for this phenomenon.
Educational difficulties across the nation have been receiving increasing amounts of attention. Despite the attention of teachers, researchers, and rhetoricians, the academic performance in public schools is not making appreciable improvements. The classroom is becoming more diverse, and multicultural. While this perceived shift is understood as a positive adaptation to he different needs of the individual student, the results is that the teacher is spending more time adapting to the individualities of the students, and less time delivering effective instruction.
At the same time, instruction in catholic schools continued to reach achievement levels which are head and shoulders above public education. According to Youniss and Convey (2000) catholic school teachers are paid less than public school teachers (reaching appx 70% of a public school teacher salary) are more involved, involved in teaching extra curricular activities, and the largest portion of the teachers life is spent in the classroom, engaged in direct instruction of his or her students.
While these facts would likely send public school teachers to the picket line, catholic school teachers are highly satisfied with their jobs, see themselves as personal role models as well as instructors of their children, and often guide their efforts in school to help create an overall community around students in order to help guide them toward higher education. As a result, and other measurable factors, 72% of catholic school students are enrolled in heavily academic coursework, and the majority of students continue on, into post secondary education.
The purpose of this research is the evaluate the possible contribution which the students make to the atmosphere in the religious educational institutions, and to measure if their attitudes toward religious education is a causal reason for the higher levels of academic performance in religious education.
These successful history of religious education, and the continues positive progress made by private religious educators are causing public educators to take notice. Why are religious schools attaining high levels of achievement, when public schools are still struggling to get student to turn in homework on time? Public school students have higher degree of freedom over their course work, and schedule selection, which according to educators should create an environment in which student 'want' to learn. Yet the results are not supporting the educational hypothesis that a happy student is a motivated student.
Discussion, and Review of educational and Religious Theory
The term religious theory and the sociological underpinnings of religious practice would likely offend most Catholics. Religious life to catholic practitioners is not a function of sociological conditioning, it is a lifestyle passed along from parent to child because of the influence of an eternal God, who resides outside of the individual's life, and desires for the individual to have a better life because of their commitment to, or involvement in religious life. Even though social commentators, viewing modern society from the ivory towers of academia, have long predicted the demise of religion, religion persists. Public opinion polls reveal that Americans of today, like their parents and grandparents, assign much importance to religion. (Batson, et al., 1993) Perhaps this is because ivory tower educators assume that religious practice is only a social phenomenon. As such they expect that the intrigue of religious life will eventually diminish, and in the same way little Susie looses her desire to play with Barbie dolls, as society becomes more individually enlightened, it will loose also their interest in playing with the concept of God.
It may be time to abandon these post-enlightenment hypotheses. Even within the academic and artistic communities, religious concerns persist. A recent Gallup Poll of U.S. college student, who are often described as the most skeptical and least religious cohort in the society, reveals a strong interest in religion: 80% report that religion is important in their lives, and 55% had attended religious services once or more in the month preceding the survey (Batson, et al., 1993)
In their work Catholic schools and the common good, authors Bryk, Lee and Holland identified a group of distinctive organizational characteristics common in Catholic high schools. Catholic schools have:
delimited academic curriculum with a proactive view about what students can and should learn.
A broad role for staff that embodies a transformative view of teaching conception of the school as a community where daily life educates in profound ways
Decentralized governance. (Bryk, et.al, 1993, p. 16)
Each of these features contributed in important ways to school functioning, nevertheless, none of these factors completely explained why Catholic schools work the way they do. These researchers remained unsettled about the answers to certain key questions, such as 'what motivates the human behavior and educational culture to be so significantly different in these places?' And 'what gives rise to the distinctive meanings of their social lives expressed by participants?'
The answer lies in changing the assumption of why the catholic school system can equally promote religious life and an educated student. The sociological assumption is that religion is a learned behavior, passes along from generation to generation in order to explain the unexplainable, and tame the incomprehensible. The promise of the modern age was that in the coat tails of Darwin, science could explain the reasons and sources of life, thus eliminating the need for religious life. So, according to the modern assumption, education would eliminate the social need for religious life. Recognizing this antagonistic relationship which was developing between public education and religious life, Catholic leaders decided to protect the children of their faith from the contagion of secularism and anti-Catholicism. (Power, 1996) While the catholic community did not respond with a universal voice, with a good deal of enthusiasm the more zealous and ambitious among them concluded that the best safeguard to faith, perhaps the only one, was to establish a system of Catholic parochial schools
The catholic approach to faith and life is that education is not antagonistic to faith, but that a fully educated person is part of the divine plan. An educated person is fully developing his or her potential to contribute to the well-being of himself, and his community. Like the early colonial settlers who insists that their children become educated as part of good citizenship, and as part of the religious faith, (McCluskey, 1959) catholic schools today do not accept the sociological paradigm of antagonism between faith and education.
According to McClusky (1959) to some observers the Catholic school may well appear to be a carbon copy of the neighboring public school. The basic objectives, organization, curriculum, standards, activities, and educational results, at a casual glance, seem pretty much the same. The perception is that some provision is made in the Catholic school for religious instruction but the assumption is that they are essentially the same. They know that there is different ownership and control. But apart from these obvious differences they fail to see anything essential that distinguishes the Catholic school from the public school. Accordingly, they are slow to understand the differences between the educational achievement result on the catholic schools when compared to public education, as also slow to understand the enormous sacrifice on the part of Catholic parents, pastors, and teachers in building and operating a separate school system. They cannot understand that due to philosophical assumptions, Catholics generally regard the public school as unsuitable for the education of their children.
Into this misunderstanding is the research conducted regarding students contribution to the learning environment of the religious school. The popular educational assumption is that a happy student is a student which will engage the educational process, and apply himself to the work of learning. This assumption is also not a part of the religious school operational paradigm. The religious school has an authoritian approach to instructional delivery, and the student, in the position of learner, accepts the work as part of the educational process. In the same way one would not expect a business to reach optimal efficient and profitability by its members focusing on fun and individual personal reward, the religious school do not expect to product superior result by letting fun and personal reward drive the curriculum or educational culture. The teachers, and religious community that surrounds the religious school believe that self sacrifice, and personal application of effort is the key to superior results.
Statement of the hypothesis
The students personal intrinsic motivations toward religious practice have a positive effect on their educational progress.
The student's personal extrinsic motivations toward religious practice have a positive effect on their educational progress.…[continue]
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