Student-Teacher Relation Is Key to School Reform, Says John Paul II

Insists That Educational System Must Respond to Cultural Challenges

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the current "crisis" of schools will be solved, not so much by a change of programs and structures, but by the quality of relations between teachers and students.



Before reciting the Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence here, the Pope encouraged believers who work in the realm of education to make their contribution to the reform of schools.

After referring to the start of the new school year, the Pope noted that there is wide talk that "the school, like the family, is 'in crisis.'"

"This expression is used to refer to the widespread feeling that this institution, recognized in its essential worth, is in need of a profound transformation that will enable it to respond to the present needs of society," he said.

However, the Holy Father pointed out that, "it is not enough to modify programs and structures to achieve this objective. A well-functioning school depends, above all, on the constructive quality of the relation between teachers and students."

"Pupils are motivated to give the best of themselves when teachers help them to perceive the meaning of what they must study, in relation to their growth and the reality that surrounds them," the Pope said. "This is true for schools of all kinds and all levels, both public and private."

John Paul II emphasized that "culture is the foundation of a people's identity. The contribution offered by the school, together with the family and in a subordinate way to the latter, continues to be indispensable to transmit the values of culture."

Today culture is "more articulated and complex but, precisely for this reason" it "acquires a new importance, from whence derives a special responsibility for believers who work in this area."

The Catholic Church runs the biggest number of kindergartens, schools and institutes of higher education in the world.