Ethics. That’s a loaded word, but what does it mean? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ethics as “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad.” In Catholic schools, the concept of ethics is closely tied in with the notion of core values and Gospel truths, a major component of our philosophy dedicated to educating the mind, body and soul.
Look at it this way: from the moment your child was born, you, as a parent, have been raising her or him to know the difference between right and wrong. Now that your child is attending school, you are looking for educators who share your ethical values and who will partner with you in guiding your child toward a virtuous life. When you send your child to a Catholic school, you have found such a partner.
But why is it so important for an educational institution to emphasize ethics? Well, we live in an ever-changing, global world and our children are going to find themselves facing challenging cultural and moral situations throughout their lifetimes. To quote Pope Francis, “The education of children and young people is such an important task in forming them as free and responsible human beings.” It is a school’s duty to prepare its students with the tools they will need in order to go out into the world and be productive, virtuous citizens. Part of this duty is to reinforce the Catholic tradition-based code of ethics that our students are acquiring from you at home. After all, Catholic schools are comprised of one big family and we are all working together.
The Vatican states that schools “should try to create a community school climate that reproduces, as far as possible, the warm and intimate atmosphere of family life.” In other words, a school must foster an atmosphere of core values and ethics, commonly referred to as a positive climate. A positive school climate is one in which everyone feels safe and supported and one in which they can trust that positive interactions are promoted. Positive behavioral expectations include everything from a mutual respect among school community members, the ability to perform proficient social interactions, and having an understanding of social conventions.
Furthermore, it is extremely important for schools to maintain a positive school climate, which can only happen in an atmosphere based on care for each other, structure and high expectations — three of the major components of a Catholic education. A structured academic environment is one in which there are clear rules with consistent consequences and one in which concern for others, self-discipline and responsibility are fostered.
When a student is immersed in a positive climate, she or he begins to incorporate that code of ethics into her or his own belief system. In turn, that child then takes that code out into the world ready to create a world of good.
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