The present, future, and quality of Catholic online education | CWR Staff | Catholic World Report
An interview with Patrick Carmack, President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, about Catholic online education, technology, and Great Books
Patrick S. J. Carmack, J.D. is the President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, and the founder of the Angelicum Academy Homeschool Program and of the Great Books Academy Homeschool Program (2000 AD). In addition to earning his Juris Doctorate, Patrick has completed additional courses in psychology and philosophy, as well as studies at the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the “Angelicum”). He is a former Judge at the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission, member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, former CEO of an independent petroleum exploration and production company, founder and former Chairman of the International Caspian Horse Society, and President of a non-profit educational foundation.
Patrick was a participant in Dr. Mortimer J. Adler’s last several Socratic discussion groups in Maryland and California in 1999 and 2000, and he moderated the first live-audio Socratic groups online and numerous online groups since. He has spoken on educational topics at various conferences in the U.S. and in Europe. He is the recipient of the International Etienne Society’s Pope John Paul the Great Thomist Humanist Award for his work in education.
He recently spoke with Catholic World Report about the Catholic online education, the pros and cons of online technology for learning, and the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program.
CWR: Online education has had exponential growth in the last decade; has Catholic online education kept pace?
Patrick S. J. Carmack: No, but it is catching up. There is a conservative tendency in Catholic education with respect to the use of modern technology, which results in a reluctance to embrace it. This is probably partly due to a kind of nostalgia for the golden age of Catholic education in the scholasticism of the High Middle Ages and the later, very successful Jesuit pedagogy developed during the Counter-Reformation period. But there is another reason as well, one articulated by Marshall and Eric McLuhan, which recognizes that technology and media themselves change us, and hence society, regardless of the content. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this, but overall the changes are troubling, especially if one connects them to the increasing secularization of the West, where technological change is most rapid. In a word, there is a dehumanizing element to technology that disembodies us to some degree—a discarnation of a sort. That, of course, runs counter to the Catholic love of all reality, including the body and the incarnational aspect of the faith.
CWR: It is surprising to hear you criticize educational technology since you work so much with it. Are you opposed to the use of technology in education, to online classes for instance?
Carmack: Yes, and no.