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April 21, 2021

The Annunciation of hope

March 25th, known as the Annunciation, also has an educational significance for Romanians. It is a symbol of hope for the better, the very motto of Education. To its religious significance, known throughout the Christian world, Romanians also add a cosmic dimension according to which the Annunciation consecrates the rebirth of life through the astronomical enthronement of Spring. And Spring brings us back, through a tradition that is unique in the world, to the Romanian trilogy of house guests: the stork on the rooftop, the barn swallow under the eaves and the grass snake under the foundation of the house. Our folk myths and beliefs concerning these three guests of Spring are so ancient that the three symbols become certificates of our historical age, basically of our permanence in the area north of the Danube. Long before migratory tribes settled down in a certain area in their Asiatic and European roaming, the Romanian house had already become a universe fertile for the creation of myths and symbols.

This cosmic religion – the ethnographers tell us – no longer survived after the triumph of Christianity, except among the peasants living in the northeastern part of the area north of the Danube, whose history dwarfs that of the invaders.
These truths, proven with every new Annunciation, are today reflected increasingly rarely in the school education system. And it is a shame! A shame also derived from the manner of teaching religion in school, no matter how optional it is. Arguments both for and against are being brought in the parents’ and teachers’ debates on the teaching of religion in school. The arguments against it center on the idea that Religion as a school subject matter allegedly goes against the scientific education of the modern age. But this critical idea is justified only in the case of the dogmatic teaching of Religion in school, in which the pupils are compelled to stick to learning by heart the “ten commandments”! Religion as a school discipline is in fact required to be taught as a core essence of the human spirit. In other words, as a factor not of obedience, not of bowing down, but of stimulating confidence in creation, including in individual creation. The school today should be a framework of superior life, meant to train but also amplify the young man’s possibility of taking a well-informed professional option.
Religion as a school discipline can and should be a factor of plenitude, understood mostly as an inner balance, favorable for reflection, as the premise of states of spiritual but also material creation. Being an authentic synthesis between spirit and matter, synthesis understood as a way of daily life, Religion as a school discipline can promote that successfully. Such a spiritual creation at school level does not run counter to, but precedes the processes of material creation in any domain and no matter how modest they would be as a social meaning. And such a plenitude, having the undercurrent of inner balance, cannot be gained – history proves it – through linear evolution, through the exclusive study of let’s say physical disciplines. There is a need for more universes, not so much parallel ones like in the current didactical practice, but complementary ones. In other words as strategic reserves of character which, in the age of so many rapid changes, confers the much-desired unity and inner cohesion to individual existence as well as to the community of historic life.
Evaluated from this perspective, Religion cannot be opposed to Biology, Astronomy, Algebra and others in their status as school disciplines. Such an opposition becomes inoperable precisely through its inadequate use. It belongs to isolated spirits from within and without school, spirits that are always negative but that never reached the shore of authentic creation in the land of which – great creators assure us – Religion, as a humanist discipline, coexists and completes itself with the exact sciences in a stimulating, a creative potential. That is why Religion can be taught, in the primary school cycle in particular, as a way of access towards the moral imperative, as the axis of superior social behavior. And, moreover, as a path towards the great poetry of the world. A path towards that unique thrill that stems from the mental representation of the Genesis, and from understanding the reason of existence in an all-encompassing cosmic order.
But all of this requires a perfect pedagogical art for the teaching of Religion in school. The return to the over-use of the child’s capacity to learn by heart, under the aegis of threats of any kind, serves only to drive him away from the strengthening poetry of Religion. Or, even worse, to limit him to the mechanical structure of the Ten Commandments, deprived of the inner debate of the child that weighs everything and chooses not solely because he is required to but because only by doing that he can fulfill a personal ideal. All of this leads to the conclusion that the teaching of Religion in school is among the top tests of talent, of educational capacity.
Primarily a capacity of educational synthesis that unfortunately is often absent from the schools. As it is well known, the ratio between the mass of information offered in classes and their character-formative result still leans against the latter. True, not more so than in other countries. But, under this ratio, the optimal term of comparison is not to be found abroad, but precisely within the Romanian education system’s potential for creation. And in order to amplify and capitalize on this potential for creation one naturally acts from multiple directions. One of them is the school Olympiads. A reason why maybe a possible Olympiad organized for Religion would be in favor of the multilateral education of youth. The pupils’ capacity for synthesis could be more intensely cultivated precisely in these conditions. In the absence of this competition and confrontation with oneself but also with those around, the young man remains prisoner of the present and deprived of the necessary individual impulse to understand the world, to personally act and think, an impulse which, even if subsequently proven imperfect, nevertheless remains as an embryo of the potential of creation. While the pupil that remains prisoner of the present suffers from the lack of communication with those around and, consequently, resorts to the excessive use of the Internet, with its serious behavioral traps.

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