Education at the Crossroads – this was the topic of the International Bilingual Education Summit, which was held at the ITI on May 5-6. It was a fitting way to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of ITI’s existence, the celebration of which was postponed from 2021 until today due to the Corona crisis. “Education is our vocation,” said the Rector, Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau, in his opening speech, and this was precisely the reason for the discussion and deliberation on the topic of the summit. Over the course of two intensive days of reflections on the main tasks of education with respect to humanity and society, the topics of the greatest dangers and challenges of the education system as well as what the priorities should be when it comes to decisions regarding the education system stitched together all the talks and discussions like a red thread.
Renowned university professors and book authors, school directors and teachers from a variety of education levels, state authorities, and, of course, ITI students plunged into vivid discussions of various essential themes that shape and direct education today. The attendees of the Summit spoke on the role of family, school, and society in the current educational crisis, the essential need to teach about beauty that protects against disappointment, and the benefit of community life in a school that establishes the basis for human flourishing. The participants of the event were also introduced to the differences between the kind of education offered in a country under a totalitarian regime and the education offered in a free and democratic society, particularities of vocational, professional, and technocratic universities, the Jewish educational tradition, as well as whether it is possible to educate students about how to be a man or a woman. These and many more questions on the highly debated topic of the summit were presented for the purpose of shared philosophizing. The friendly academic atmosphere that reigned at the ITI during these days speaks for itself.
In his address, the ITI Grand Chancellor, His Eminence Cardinal Schönborn, brought to our attention St. Thomas’ teaching on role of the teacher. The great theologian and ITI Patron Saint views the teacher in light of the image of God and above all in light of the relationship between God and humanity. He looks at the teacher as a servant of truth, rather than holding an honorable position. He even goes so far as to say that there is only one teacher, the magister interior, the inner master, the Logos, who is Jesus Himself, who allows the truth to shine in our hearts.
The mission of the ITI, as an educational institution, the Cardinal explained, is to lead its students to the great masters, so that they themselves can learn from them and trust them. Thus, when ITI students leave after graduation, they can further transmit the truth that they found in the teaching of the saints and theologians.
The Education Summit was crowned with great success. Dr. Geusau’s closing talk tied together all the thoughts and ideas of the summit. He emphasized that education is not primarily a transmission of information, but is rather about growth of character built on the basis of the relationship between teacher and student. Education is not about creating something new, but is rather a way to assist students in finding their vocation and thus to make visible what is already present within. It is a way to teach students to listen to the language of nature and learn how to engage in intellectual debate. Education is the art of asking questions, a way to awaken in students a healthy interior restlessness. It is the art of accepting, and yet at the same time delving more deeply into the mysterious reality of life. It is a journey that never ends – and each teacher is called to serve and not to master that journey of the student.
You can listen to the discussions of the debated questions at the summit by selecting the talks on the ITI YouTube channel.
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