Pere Jacques was a Carmelite Priest and "Martyr of Love" 1900 - 1946
I'm sharing some wonderful notes from my Carmelite group on this fascinating priest, who was headmaster of Le Petit College de Sainte Therese and who died at Mauthausen concentration camp on 2nd June 1945.
At a time when discipline was paramount and teaching was heavily didactic, that is, a matter of the teacher giving information and the pupil receiving it, Fr. Jacques approach to education was quite revolutionary. The teacher was not "to block the child's horizon by always walking in front of him." Instead he must " let the child go ahead, following him and only intervening discreetly when it is necessary, always with tact and discretion."
Such an approach issued from a belief that the child isn't an empty, passive vessel into which teachers pour knowledge; it rests on confidence that the children have an innate desire for, and a capacity to, learn an grow, that they are made to engage with the world in order to become what they are made to be.
Fr. Jacques did not derive his confidence from psychology so much as from his Christian understanding of the human person.
He agreed with St. Thomas Aquinas that freedom is the great attribute of the human being made in the image of God. Education involved, therefore, enabling children to realise their true freedom, so they would not remain slaves to their own heredity or unexamined ideology. Fr. Jacque emphasized the importance of education in the formation of character.
Catholic thinking define education as "integral human development with a view to man's final end." That is man's final end is sanctity and union with God. It also emphasizes the role if education in producing citizens who will build a world in accordance with the highest human values, that is, values consistent with the Gospel.
In his "Mission statement for the college at Avon he states: " A Teacher is to awaken the child so that the child can realise fully all that God has in view for him, through the complete blossoming of his personality."
Some quotes from Fr. Jacque:
"The human soul, a flower more delicate and subtle than the most beautiful of flowers, needs calm, recollection, serenity if it is to bloom harmoniously."
" The true end of all human education must be: holiness."
"Make no mistake about it: holiness is even better than art or genius in bringing about the blossoming of our personality. Only the saints are truly free. Holiness and liberty go together."
"The most decisive victory will be won on the day that the educator makes his pupil see and enjoy the difference between joy and pleasure."
To succeed in this education of the children of God there is one essential condition: there must be an atmosphere of joy."
"Gentleness is the characteristic of all pedagogic activity, its the fundamental disposition, the permanent state of soul of the educator."
"Gentleness, true gentleness, strong and calm gentleness, can only dwell in a heart that is totally self-forgetful so that it thinks only of others, who has no greater happiness than to let all his time, all his strength, all his devotion be absorbed by those who need a word, some advice, some service, in short, a heart which keeps nothing for itself, but gives all it has and is, without reflecting on the importance of this gift."