Mentoring and Monitoring Benedictine
Voices From The Monastery
Review of Literature
I will not subject you to the entire dissertation here, but I will provide an overview of the review of literature and the results. In the literature review, I considered arguments from Sinclair Goodlad, among others, for the monastic model for highereducation. Goodlad characterizes models for types of educational institutions as "airport" or "monastic" and he bases his typology on function, relationship types, social interactions, rules, hospitality, entertainment and central component. Contrasted with the airport culture, as a place of transit, promoting functional relationships and little interest in social lives of those passing through, and where discipline serves as a penalty for law infringement and entertainment reflects the outside culture; the monastic culture affords permanent membership, values relationships, has a "paternalistic" interest in social and spiritual development and a discipline for inappropriate behavior.2
No doubt you are familiar with the work of Carney Strange and Harry Hagan, O.S.B., and their application of Benedictine values to the higher education environment. They offer six foundational values from the RBwhich serve as essential in building community in higher education and which they consider to be essential to the mission of teaching and learning. The six values and their interpretation are tradition et regula, or lived and documented experience serving to define culture and shape community ethos; stabilitas which develops from continued affiliation and commitment to something larger than individual interests; conversatio or openness to change and growth; ora et labora, a balance between integration and balance; obedientia or seeking counsel from all members of the community; and hospitalitas, being open and providing an atmosphere of accessibility and caring.3
In a booklet entitled "Heritage, Tradition and Identity," a digest of values reflected in the Rule provided to me by Fr. David Turner, O.S.B., the following values are listed: awareness of God, living in community, the dignity of work, hospitality, justice, listening, moderation, peace, respect for persons, stability and stewardship.4
In addition to the literature review surveys, there are arguments for the creation of community in higher education as well as a history of Benedictine higher education in the United States which I need not summarize for this audience! I also reviewed mission statements from some of the institutions I surveyed, noting those which have direct references to the RB in their published mission statements.
As I progressed, I found myself becoming more interested in the actual responses from a follow-up email which had elicited comments on the chapters the respondents listed as most relevant. As I looked at the demographics represented by the responders, I realized that the voices were getting older and fewer, and I found myself less interested in the question of congruence and more in actually listening to the voices from the monastery as they shared their experience. By the way, I see this development as a growth step on my path: applying that great Benedictine value of listening. So I decided to focus more on the actual voices from the monastery speaking on the utility of the RB in their work in higher education. As longtime practitioners, what else might they have to share with the rest of us?
4Heritage, Tradition, and Identity: A Collection of Resources and References Related to the Mission of Benedictine University, booklet one entitled "Benedictine Heritage" (Lisle, IL: Benedictine University 2000). return