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Edmonton, Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association, c1985. 72pp, paper, $10.00, ISBN 0-88864-942-8. (Blueprints Reader #1). CIP


Laplante, Richard L.

Edmonton, Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association, c1985. 131pp, paper, $10.00, ISBN 0-88864-941-X. Distributed by Publication Services, Faculty of Education, 4-116 Education North, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta., T6G 2G5. CIP

Reviewed by Kenneth A. Elliott

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

Visions for the Catholic School is a collection of essays by six of the foremost thinkers and writers in Alberta's Catholic education community. Ideas explored include: "Christian Unity and Catholic Schools," "The Gospel-Centered School," and "Roles and Relationships in Catholic Schools." Each essay pursues one of the central themes of Blueprints, a creative force and process developed in Alberta over the past six years. This process has done much to define the mission or "vision" for the Catholic school. This is the first volume of the Blueprints Reader.

Of the many interesting spinoffs created by this undertaking, the most dynamic one is the description of the role of the school in imparting hope to the children who come to it for instruction. Hopefulness is a common thread woven among the essays. It certainly strikes a responsive chord in the heart of any teacher involved with teenagers in the classroom today.

In its press for unity at all levels of the educational system, Richard Laplante captures the dynamism of the entire project when he states:

It is not doctrine or content statements that bind people together, that gives them hope: it is common experiences of the spirit of Jesus in and among us.

Ralph Himsl, in expressing a radical opinion, smudges an otherwise brilliant approach to Catholic education. The Catholic teacher is challenged to accept, acknowledge, and proclaim the largely spurious nature of school marks. Regrettably, this is the author's personal opinion that is not substantiated in the research, yet alone in the classroom. Evaluation is a basic taxonomic objective and a human need. If used properly, like any human tool, it can do enormous good to the child's self-esteem. Unfortunately, the author's idea of competition is lumped under the same bias. Nevertheless, anyone administrating or teaching in Catholic schools will welcome with open arms this first volume of Blueprints.

Its oversize format and its brown-on-beige print make for easy reading. The wide margins provide the reader with ample space for notes. Handy "References" and a "Further Readings" bibliography provide access to deeper content. An eight-page selected bibliography is also included.

In the companion volume, Do You Hear What We Mean?, Laplante has explored some thirty words and phrases to help the reader communicate in the vocabulary of the modern Alberta Catholic school. For each word, the reader will find an historical reference, a relationship to current Catholic school practices, ecumenical dimensions, and some future issues. Topics such as family, faith, commitment, morals, saints, tolerance, and values are discussed at length. The reader who wishes to pursue the subject in depth is provided with further reading materials at the end of each entry. The lexicon entries are easily found, alphabetically arranged, in the table of contents. The appendix contains the Mission Statement of the Alberta Catholic School community. Again, the print format of brown on beige is a welcome change for the eye.

Laplante has attempted to up-date the vocabulary of those of us who read post Vatican II material. This lexicon was made in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Ministry degree, St. Stephen's College, Edmonton. The author's research is evident in his selection of bibliography. The research of such well-known authors in the field of Catholic education as Thomas Francoeur and Martin Jeffrey are extensively used. The monumental project by the Catholic Committee of the Superior Council of Education of the Province of Quebec, Religion In Today's School, is used skilfully to highlight Laplante's understanding of these key topics. Both volumes are basic reading for anyone involved with educating youth in Catholic schools today.

Kenneth A. Elliott, Laval Catholic H.S., Chomedey, Que.
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