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Touching the Hearts of Students: Characteristics of Lasallian Schools Paperback – September 9, 2015
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About the Author
George Van Grieken FSC is currently Director of the Brothers community at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California, where he also teaches and serves on the Board of Trustees. Born and raised in Holland, he grew up in Napa, California, and has earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts, an M.A. in Theology (Saint Mary's College), and a Ph.D. in Religion and Education (Boston College). He develops curriculum materials for Boards of Trustees at Lasallian schools and has given workshops in the Philippines, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Along with his interest in all things Lasallian, he has one published liturgical song (May God Bless You) with Oregon Catholic Press that has a million-plus circulation as part of their annual Music Issue.
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Top customer reviews
"...Van Grieken's Touching the Hearts of Students contributes to an understanding of the current work of religious communities who are using their expertise in operating Catholic schools to prepare the laity to assume leadership of these schools. Written in the tradition of [Saint John Baptist de] La Salle's famous instructions to teachers, the book is logically laid out with great attention to detail. The reviewer captures the spirit of the book and its message."
Book review by Brother Jeffrey Gros, FSC
"As the age of the laity emerges, providing vision and formation for Catholic schools formerly staffed by religious remains a challenge and an opportunity. Religious communities are developing training programs, literature, and inservice processes for empowering lay educators in their mission as Catholic educators, drawing on the tradition of the sponsoring community.
This volume is an important contribution to that literature. While this book emerges out of the tradition of a particular community, as the subtitle notes, the fact that it deals with the Catholic patron of all teachers, John Baptist de La Salle, and that it is designed in a practical, concrete way, gives it a more universal usefulness than just a resource for schools in the tradition of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. The book includes five chapters, a useful annotated bibliography, and three appendices.
The first chapter situates Catholic education today, as religious communities are in the process of moving into shared mission with lay colleagues and of providing support for the merging lay leadership in the schools. Developing this vision is enhanced by grounding that vision in the particular narrative which gave rise to it. The second chapter traces the life and times of De La Salle. The third chapter elaborates the educational vision that has emerged in the Church from the vision and practice of this tradition.
Much of modern Catholic education is grounded in the 18th- and 19th-century movements focused in the heritage of De La Salle. The most well known of those contributions are the simultaneous method and the vernacular language. The chapter that will be most useful for administrators envisioning programs and processes for board and faculty development is the fifth, which focuses on the vision and practice for today. After laying out 10 operative commitments for an educational spirituality emerging from the spirit of faith and zeal, the author provides a detailed reflective process for enhancing the internalization of these commitments. In each section the text delineates consequences for students, teachers, teaching activity, and the teacher-student relationship. With these brief expository segments are included appropriate quotations and follow-up questions. While the quotations here are from De La Salle and Christian Brothers literature, they can as easily be substituted by parallel material from the Church or other communities for use in other context. The tradition represented here could have been conceptualized with a more universal audience in view. The more sectarian focus on "Lasallian" schools does not diminish the quality of the volume as a resource for wider use, but it does exhibit its significance for all Catholic schools as they embody the values inherited from this patron of all their teachers. The charisms of the saints and of religious communities are gifts for the universal Church.
This volume demonstrates how what has been developed by one leader for a particular movement in the Church becomes a resource for all of us as we move into an era of lay leadership, grounded in the faith of the Church and zeal for the Gospel. This is a book written by a teacher for teachers. It is well researched, but more importantly it is well written with a lay audience in mind. It will be both a useful tool for school administrators and an admirable model for religious communities enabling shared mission in promotion of lay leadership in Catholic schools."
Brother Jeffrey Gros, FSC, is associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC.
In particular, Van Grieken provides more (and more helpful) information on the theory and practice of Lasallian pedagogy than I have found elsewhere.
I highly recommend Touching the Hearts of Students for anyone teaching at a Lasallian school or anyone doing research on Lasallian education and pedagogy.