The FGS English department hosted three English teachers from a local Catholic girls' school this morning; they observe classes in the morning (including one of mine, which I'm happy to say went very well indeed), and then we all gathered over lunch and chatted about the sort of things that English teachers at nearby schools chat about -- the kind and range of students we have, our curricula, other elements of our professional life, etc. A very nice get-together (although I'm completely wiped out this evening from the extra busy-ness on my already-busiest teaching day of the week).
The students at this other school have to take theology every year on top of the other usual subjects, which of course is perfectly reasonable in a Catholic school. One of the FGS teachers asked what they covered in the theology curriculum: whether they had electives, whether they covered world religions, etc. (and the answer on all fronts was "no"). So here's the amazing thing they then told us (with some embarrassment on their part): The junior year theology course is called "Women's Catholic Spirituality" or something like that, and one of their big projects in that course is ...
... (wait for it) ...
planning their weddings!
We all looked at them blankly, and then one of my colleagues said, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
And they repeated it. No, we hadn't misheard. These high school juniors all have to plan their future weddings.
This same colleagues said, "You mean, like planning the menu and the dress and everything?"
My department chair, clearly getting wound up at this point, said, "And I presume that all of these weddings have to be heterosexual?"
Oh, uh, yes. At this point, one of the visiting teachers said apologetically, "It's a pretty conservative school."
We politely moved on then conversationally, but this curricular moment kept re-occurring to me at odd moments for the rest of the day, at which point I'd alternate between shocked laughter and horror. I'll confess that I told the story to a few of our FGS juniors who were gathered in my room, just for the fun of seeing their faces and hearing their gasps.
Later in the afternoon I talked with another departmental colleague, who is herself Catholic and went to parochial school and who lives really close to this other school, which means she has a hell of a commute to FGS. So working at this other school would be much more convenient for her. "But," she said, "after you've taught at a progressive school like FGS, there's just no considering working at any other sort of school." So, so true. Not that FGS is perfect, of course, or doesn't have room to grow, but at least we don't have 16-year-olds picking out their bridal veils!