Ottawa Catholic School Board proclaims their importance and relevance

“OCSB STUDENTS BECOME ‘DISCERNING BELIEVERS’, APPLYING FAITH TO LIFE”

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This half-page “advertorial” appeared in the Saturday, May 2 print and online editions of The Ottawa Citizen newspaper. Paid for by the Ottawa Catholic School Board (i.e. your tax dollars, if you live in Ontario), it contains the following disclaimer:

This story was produced by the Ottawa Citizen’s advertising department on behalf of the Ottawa Catholic School Board for commercial purposes. The Citizen’s editorial department had no involvement in the creation of this content.

Based on the phrasing of the headline, I was expecting to see some actual evidence of the outcomes they are claiming. However, as I read text of the article, I noticed that they spent a lot of time talking about their themes, approaches, motivations, seeking, and striving and building, but a glaring lack of information about the actual results.

I also found it odd that they show only one child, a Caucasian-looking boy. It’s been some years since I have seen an ad from a local educational institution that has not made some effort to show diversity of gender, ethnicity, ability, etc.

As I read through the article, it became clear that the OCSB, like all good Roman Catholic institutions, is convinced that their church Knows the Truth (though they do acknowledge “the universal values of all faiths”). But of course, from their perspective, faith is a requirement for ethical behaviour: “For each of our students, while academic success is what we strive for, we also feel it’s important that the child grows up to be a ‘good’ person”. (Do they really think that the non-Catholic public schools are not every bit as interested in having kids learn how to be ‘good people’?)

But I was pleasantly surprised to read the following:

“Given the global context, we want to encourage critical thinking around religious learning, so that students learn what is in the best interest for humanity and others, not just for themselves.”

And, referring to community, charity, and social justice:

“We try to have those connections for students so that they see they have a global, humanistic, responsibility to the world.”

Encouraging critical thinking? Humanistic responsibility? Be careful what you wish for…

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