Educational vision : a Marist perspective
This research seeks to understand the current educational vision of the Marist Brothers' Teaching congregation, a Catholic religious order founded by Marcellin Chainpagnat in rural France in 1817 which currently has 5,000 Brothers educating young people in 76 countries. The Congregation is conceptualised as a charismatic social movement Using case study methodology, it is investigated as a single bounded system comprising many sub-systems, namely its individual school communities, which can be studied both as interesting in themselves and as leading to a significant measure of understanding of the overall system. The work of Marist Brothers in three schools in three continents is studied in detail. Marceilin College, Melbourne, St Mungo's Academy, Glasgow and Archbishop Molloy High School, New York. Interviews, document analyses and observations are carried out over a two year period, from 1990 to 1992. Theory contributes to the research, first, through an appropriation and adaptation of Max Weber's sociology of charismatic authority, second, through a study of the self understanding of religious congregations as reflected in and influenced by the current theology of religious life, and third, through brief analyses of some educational social movements with a claim to be charismatic, in particular the United World Colleges and the Society of Jesus. With the data from the three case study schools collected and analysed, initii1 research findings were sent to Marist educators in eight further schools in seven different countries. These educators affirmed those findings which coincided with their experience of Marist educational vision and added other findings based on their current work. Some theoretical conclusions are drawn about the fruitfulness of bringing the theological and sociological literatures on charisma into relationship with each other. A series of more practical conclusions relates to the nature of Marist educational vision, the possibility of pursuing this vision with different levels of contribution in terms of numbers and roles of Brothers in a school, of the relationship of Brothers to lay staff in Marist schools, and the process of school self-definition of educational vision.