Catholic education : distinctive and inclusive
The thesis examines the coherence of the claim that Catholic education is both distinctive and inclusive. It clarifies the implications for church schools of a Catholic worldview and situates Catholic schools in the context of (and subjects them to scrutiny in the light of) alternative liberal philosophical perspectives in our society. Central questions explored are: what is the nature of, foundation for and implications of the claim that Catholic schools offer a distinctive approach to education? To what extent does the claim to distinctiveness entail exclusiveness or allow for inclusiveness? How far can distinctiveness and inclusiveness (in the context of Catholic education) be reconciled? An extended commentary on key Roman documents about Catholic education is provided. This is related to the particular context of Catholic schools in England and Wales, where an ambivalence in the purposes of Catholic schools is indicated and a way for them to avoid the ambivalence by being both distinctive and inclusive is suggested. The study works at the interface between Christian (and more specifically Catholic) theology, philosophical analysis and educational theory and practice with regard to the raison d'etre of Catholic schools. Through a retrieval and application of the notion of 'living tradition' it is shown that within Catholicism there are intellectual resources which enable Catholic schools to combine distinctiveness with inclusiveness, although there will be limits on the degree of inclusiveness possible. In the face of criticisms of their potentially inward-looking role in a pluralist society, it is argued that Catholic schools contribute to the common good. The argument should enhance clarity about purpose for Catholic educators in England and Wales. It also has implications for Catholic schools elsewhere and for other Christians and for people of other religions in the practice of their oit forms of faithbased education.