→HOW ORTHODOXY EDUCATES ITS PEOPLE
HOW ORTHODOXY EDUCATES ITS PEOPLE==
Orthodox Christians are the True Believing Christians who have continued in the ways of Christ since the first Christian century, in the way Christ passed it on to His apostles and disciples, and their subsequent true followers.
The Patriarchate of Rome adopted the name Catholic, which is now the common name for this Church in western Europe and in western European influenced nations. The other four patriarchates called themselves the True Church, or Orthodox (the Greek word for true believers, true practitioners). This is the common name for these four Churches throughout the world, and for their loyal offshoots.
Usually, in the western world, educational theorists say education is larger than just schooling, and continues, or should continue, after schooling finishes. They point to the Latin origin of the word education, educare, to draw out, to lead out. They say the purpose of education is to lead a person to self-actualise themselves and reach their own potential by gently guiding them onto the path of self-education. But in reality, most people do not distinguish between education and schooling.
In the Christian East, education has not been highly influenced by the scholastic method, although Russia has been a most notable exception.
EASTERN CHRISTIAN EDUCATION===
In Russia the Jesuit method was introduced into all church seminaries by tsarist fiat, and continued until the virtual dissolution of the Orthodox Church in Russia under the atheistic soviets. A few seminaries were permitted to continue under very closely supervised and reduced circumstances. These continued to follow the rigorous militaristic seventeenth century Jesuit method. Students lived in barracks with no heating. In winter, most of Russia has snow with temperatures regularly dropping to minus 40 degrees centigrade and to minus 60 in parts of Siberia. Educational discipline was spartan, health breaking, and capricious.
For this reason, most commentators see the Liturgy in church as the pre-eminent means of educating people outside the family circles. The church buildings themselves are lessons in Christianity and usually have large numbers of artistic paintings (icons) expressing primary Christian lessons in pictures.
WESTERN ORTHODOX EDUCATION===
In the twentieth century, Paris became a great centre of Orthodox learning (Institute of St Sergius) following the flight there of the Orthodox intellectuals from Bolshevik persecution in Russia, and the subsequent pogroms there of Stalin and his ilk.
Western methods of teaching the laity were also adopted over time and proved very successful in giving the faithful an intellectual understanding of the tenets of their faith. Unfortunately, the secular, scientific, agnostic, basis of western teaching also undermined the faith and values systems the Churches were less successfully trying to convey to their faithful. The result is to be seen in current times with declining membership of all Orthodox Churches in the United States, with the exception of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (www.antiochian.org).
WORLD ORTHODOX EDUCATION===
A very interesting development in the last two or three decades has been the flourishing of church websites giving much more accessible accounts of themselves, their origins, their teachings, their news, their aspirations, and their methods.
Some more traditional centres of Orthodox learning are also implementing distance education programs in conjunction with their usual in situ programs. The distance learning programs do not seem to have had the success their promoters envisaged when they first appeared 20 or so years ago. One suggestion why this happened is because they were still too closely aligned with the usual physical centres of learning with all their commitment to maintaining the seminary or university buildings, prime physical amenities, and staff housing. Distance learning does not require lecturers to have the best of housing in the leafiest most remote parts of the institutions campus. So distance learning became a threat to institutional learning unless held under strict and rigid conditions.
FUTURE ORTHODOX EDUCATION===
Non-residential web-based learning is still an excellent option for the future for teaching Orthodox Christianity, as it is for all types of academic subjects.