Fr. Greg Boyle speaks at the “From Service to Kinship” conference in Toronto April 13. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Education goes beyond curriculum

By 
  • April 17, 2016

Toronto – American Jesuit Father Greg Boyle told Ontario educators they must stand with the poor, the vulnerable and anyone who is rejected by society.

“How is that not your job description?” he asked a crowd of about 200 educators and community members from across the province. “What you have to do sometimes is dismantle the messages of shame and disgrace that keep people from seeing the truth and feeling their worth.”

“From Service to Kinship” was a day-long conference held April 13 and organized by the Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario, with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, to discuss how educators can go beyond just their curriculum.

Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program in the United States. The organization welcomes more than 12,000 former gang members, addicts and ex-felons to its training and re-entry programs every year. His New York Times bestseller, Tattoos on the Heart, tells dozens of stories about kinship and redemption.

Boyle shared his 30 years of experience working with marginalized youth. He said society’s success lies in creating a kinship with each other. By building kinship with the youth at risk, they no longer have the need to resort to violence and addiction.

“There is a distance sometimes between service provider and service recipient, teacher and student,” he said. “Some of it is appropriate, but some of it is you want to somehow arrive to some kind of mutuality.” 

Boyle said kinship is the key to fulfilling God’s dream that humankind be one. Cultivating this connection helps the community “dismantle the messages of shame and disgrace that keep people from feeling their worth.” It allows for a more productive and united society.

“You stand at the margins because that’s what Jesus would do,” said Boyle.

“And you look under your feet and the margins are getting erased because you’re standing there and then you cease to care whether anybody accuses you of wasting your time.”

“I think for me, it’s just wonderful to have someone articulate who we are as teachers and what does it mean,” said CEFO executive director Don Walker.

“It’s so much more than just the curriculum... It’s all about how we reach out and how we are in relationship.”

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