The Problem of Popular Culture
This book comes from my years of work as an educator and catechist. Although, as will become clear, it is not about young people, it had its beginnings in my often vague reflections arising from work with young people and from trying to understand the influences in their lives. As a high school teacher, then as a parish catechist, and now as a university professor, I have been preoccupied with what young people pay attention to and why. Seeking to influence others toward religious understanding and insight, I saw religious tradition function as only one among many influences, and in many cases, a weak one.
Early on as a high school teacher, I realized that the school, for all the important goals it set for itself, was not the major influence it wished to be and had perhaps overstated its role. Years later I came across Henri Marrou's description of the limited role expected of schools in antiquity because of the major role the wider culture was expected to have in education.
[At this time, third century and later] Schools did not play the all-important part in education which they were to play in the Middle Ages. The schoolmaster was only responsible for one small section of children's education--the mental side. He did not really educate his pupils. Education means, essentially, moral training, character training, a whole way of life. The "master" was only expected to teach them to read--which is a much less important matter. 1
Many of the young people I have known held notions about school similar to those of the third century: School is not a whole way of life. What caught