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Thought for the day 20th May 2020

Lockdown was so simple! But easing it has created dilemmas for many. Not least, our schools, and especially primary schools in England. The Government has suggested a June 1st reopening, but many Local Authorities, school governors and teachers have real doubts about the safety of this idea. We all believe in the importance of education for our children, but how can it best and most safely be provided?

What we often forget about education is that it was the Church which brought it to these shores and championed its value. The engine for learning across the whole of Europe as far back as the so-called ‘dark ages’ was the Church. Why? Because books and manuscripts were the source of knowledge. Because the Christian faith had inherited from its Jewish origins a set of writings, ‘scriptures’ to which it soon added its own. So reading, literacy, was the tool of learning; and once St Benedict had jet-fuelled the monastic movement, it was in monasteries that literacy and learning were promoted and safeguarded. And, as it happens, the Church today remembers Alcuin, a Yorkshireman educated at the cathedral school in York in the mid-C8th who became educational adviser to the emperor Charlemagne, and later abbot of the great monastery in Tours, France.

Education is the most precious gift we can pass on to our children. It is rooted in our Christian past. We have to get it right.

Fr John

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