I can remember walking into class on my first day of high school and being greeted by…Santa. Known as Mr. D, he was mostly talked about for being a chain smoker. This was my freshman year religion class where I would be lectured on how not to have sex before marriage and how Terri Schiavo couldn’t have her feeding tube removed.
I, whether I liked it or not, went to Catholic high school.
I have never considered myself a religious person by any means. I was baptized as a baby and received my First Communion, but beyond that, I wasn’t too interested in keeping the faith. My parents supported my decisions and I was able to lead my life as I pleased. But, when it came to my education, my family wasn’t as lenient. My mother was unhappy with our town’s education system and wanted me to get out. My mother desired a better education for me, and as a result, I said goodbye to the public school system.
There are a lot of preconceived notions that people have about a private school educations versus a public school education. Yes, private schools may be able to offer smaller classes sizes and a better reputation, but think about everything else that is involved. Teacher’s don’t have to be certified, they often don’t offer special education programs, and not to mention the high costs involved. Specifically with a Catholic education, there is an even stricter set of rules and guidelines that students must follow and learn. For some, the thought of involving religion and education is off putting.
Personally, I wasn’t very active in the religious community in high school. I chose not to get communion during Mass, I never took the honors-level religion courses, and I usually ignored morning prayer. At first, it was annoying, but after a while, it became part of my everyday life and it seemed like it wasn’t even there. Still, my political and moral views on life didn’t always line up with the Catholic Church. I often became angry and frustrated when controversial topics like homosexuality and abortion arose. Things that I considered small, like sock length and shaving, became big deals amongst the administration. I felt constrained by the rules of my environment.
I believe that because I was so fundamentally opposed to my high school’s religious views, I went as far to the other side of the spectrum as possible. Now I attend Emerson College which is number 6 on the Princeton Review’s list of schools with Least Religious Students. Needless to say I now live my life as devoid of religion as possible.
At this point it may seem useless that the high school that I went to was Catholic. Clearly, I didn’t enjoy the experience. However, I have noticed that I have a wealth of religious knowledge. I’m able to actively participate and even facilitate discussions on religion and religious history due to four years of that being part of my everyday life. And, I’d rather take a religion class than an ethics class to fulfill certain general education requirements. Overall, it has found its use in my life.
Without my Catholic high school education, I know that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I probably wouldn’t have ended up at the college I attend and I wouldn’t have a wealth of useless knowledge on the Bible. Whether or not you’re religious, religion can affect your education. In public high schools, religion is often kept separate. But what about people who want creationism taught over evolution? And what about a student who openly talks about their faith? Whether or not you like it, religion is everywhere, even in public schools. It can affect the way we interact with others and the way we learn. Don’t ignore it.