CGS and Theosophy: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd mirrors the Theosophist Pedagogy Pt3
Now that we have observed how Montessori’s pedagogy is based on theosophist notions of God and nature, we will explore how the theosophist principles have been incorporated into the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd method of teaching. We shall discover the theosophist’s distorted notion of a teacher and the idea that knowledge pre-exists in the child. Since the child has access to ‘special knowledge,’ CGS takes it to the next step, mentioning that the adult will learn from the child. This ideology has raised little concern from program instructors and is a central concept used by CGS, thus forming a new way of classroom teaching and learning, vastly different from traditional methods. This peculiar understanding of a child possessing “special knowledge” appears to raise no concern since the CGS does not claim to uphold theosophist principles, but those of the Montessori Method.
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is based on the psychology of Maria Montessori, which is the source of many problems in this program.
“2. With this aim in mind, the catechist embraces Maria Montessori’s vision of the human being and thus the attitude of the adult regarding the child; and prepares an environment called the atrium, which aids the development of the religious life.”
The Characteristics of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: 32 Points of Reflection
The Montessori notion that knowledge of the child comes from within, is clearly held by Sophia Cavalletti, one of the co-founders of CGS. An article about Sophia Cavalletti states:
"She works from the theological assumption that Catechesis offers children the opportunity to relate to God whom "they innately know and perceive." It is not a "catechesis of definition but a catechesis of invitation"1
This concept of knowledge within is completely contrary to Catholic theology and was condemned as an error known as immanentism. Knowledge of the faith does not come from a sentiment within, rather, this knowledge was given to the apostles and is passed down from generation to generation.
Since the child is believed to have this knowledge within, CGS follows the same line of reasoning of Montessori and Besant, who reduces the teacher to a mere facilitator.
"the only Teacher is Christ; both children and adults place themselves in a listening stance before his Word"2
“The catechist is not a teacher, remembering that the only Teacher is Christ himself. The catechist renounces every form of control"3
"The material makes it possible for the catechist to assume his/her proper “post” as “the useless servant.”"4
“The catechist renounces every form of control (such as quizzes, texts, exams, etc.) in the spirit of poverty before an experience whose fruits are not her/his own.”
The Characteristics of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: 32 Points of Reflection,
The teacher is a mere facilitator, not just because the child can more easily access knowledge from within, but the child is somehow above the adult. Similar to the idea of the child being divined in the writings of Besant or drinking in divine power as stated by Montessori. This is why the adult will learn from the child.
“The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is also concerned with helping adults open their eyes to the hidden riches of the child, especially to the child’s spiritual wealth, so that adults will be drawn to learn from the child and to serve him/her.” The Characteristics of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: 32 Points of Reflection
The role of teacher and pupil has been inverted, and now the adult will learn from the child; because according to Cavelletti the child has a stronger relationship with God.
The years she has spent doing biblical and liturgical catechesis with children have shown her children's deep and mysterious relationship with God, a relationship that she feels is much more serious than that of adults, and one that they are more vitally capable of enjoying.5
This notion that by virtue of being a child, one has a special relationship with God is completely contrary to the ageless concept of growth and maturity. However, CGSUSA.com uses this passage of scripture to support this view.
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV, Matthew: 18 3-4)
However, nowhere among Sacred Tradition or the writings of the Saints do we find this interpretation to meant we must invert the Relationship of child and adult, but rather the adult should imitate the purity found in the child. Here is the commentary on this verse from St. John Chrysostom:
“For by a little child, here, He means the men that are thus simple and lowly, and abject and contemptible in the judgment of the common sort.” Commentary by St John Chrysostom
We can see that principles of the theosophist pedagogy have trickled their way into the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd by means of the Montessori Method. In our next post, we shall see that more than just the pedagogy has been a form of Gnostic infiltration, but CGS also follows the decrees of Annie Besant on Religious Education.
1 Scottie May, “Sofia Cavalletti,” www.biola.edu
5 Scottie May, “Sofia Cavalletti,” www.biola.edu