At The Heart of Education At The Heart of Education
School Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care

James Norman (Editor)
ISBN 9781853907524 (1853907529)
Veritas, 2004

Category: Education
Reviewed by: Laurence Hillel

This book is a reader aimed at all who study as well as practice pastoral care in schools. It has drawn together the thoughts of trainers, educators, chaplains and teachers who serve the Irish Education system and is particularly focused on the experience of secondary schooling in Ireland.

The book contains essays covering a range of subjects relevant to faith development and pastoral care of adolescents. It has something to offer any reader interested in these areas whatever position they are coming from. There are very useful essays in the areas of adolescent development, discipline, spirituality, religious education, counselling and specific areas of pastoral care.

For school Chaplains — in which there is a dearth of guidance material — this book fills a very important gap, and is useful in that it reflects the state school system as opposed to the private school system in Ireland. One note of warning; because it is written out of an Irish and Roman Catholic experience, some of the insights are not always easily translatable into the English school situation.

As a priest and Chaplain in a Church of England Secondary School I found the essays on counselling and chaplaincy practice particularly useful ( the essays on education less so!), although in one or two of the essays I did object to the rather hierarchical teacher voice expressed there; my own experience of chaplaincy is that one needs to be ever flexible and ever ready to challenge one's own set views. God, as Gerard W. Hughes SJ reminds us, is often found in surprising places!

The last chapter dealing with disadvantaged youth and faith sounds a note of reality in its recognition that religious and faith educators face difficult challenges in making faith relevant to young people's lives in the 21st century. Schools reflect the world in which we live and the young people, no matter what their background, are influenced by the values they meet in their homes and in the media. Such values as we know are often indifferent to mainstream Christianity.

For any person involved in school chaplaincy work or indeed in pastoral care within a Church School this is a very helpful resource book to enable one to enter the adolescent world and to seek to understand where it might be touched by the Christian Gospel within the school setting.

Laurence Hillel, October 2004

Rev'd Laurence Hillel is an Anglican Priest and School Chaplain at Bishop Ramsey School, Ruislip, Middlesex.


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