Friday 17 March 2017
Pioneer of Catholic education in NSW awarded honorary degree
The University of Notre Dame Australia conferred a Doctor of Education to Brother Patrick Howlett FMS, honouring his commitment to and advancement of Catholic education in New South Wales, at the Sydney Campus Graduation Ceremony on 14 March 2017.
A pioneer of Catholic education in the Marist tradition for more than 50 years, Br Patrick is most recognised for the introduction of project-based learning (PBL) in the classrooms at Parramatta Marist High School – the oldest Catholic school in Australia – where he has been Principal since 2002.
Project-based learning is a teaching model approach that encourages deeper learning in an academically rigorous environment where students are challenged to work collaboratively to build professional skills.
Drawing parallels to Notre Dame’s Core Curriculum, Br Patrick said PBL has created a positive school culture underpinned by trust, respect and responsibility, and a learning environment that prepares students for the challenges of today and in the future.
“Over time, I have come to the view that teaching ought to be considered not just in what we teach but more in terms of why and how we teach. It is therefore pleasing to note that Notre Dame holds a similar mission or worldview perspective regarding education,” Br Patrick said.
In 2012, Br Patrick received the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Benedict XVI and two years later was honoured with a ‘Champion of the West’ Awards as a significant leader in Western Sydney.
In recognition of his mastery of teaching, leadership and contribution to education, Br Patrick received the Master Teacher of Honour Award from the Kappa Delta Pi International Honour Society in Education – the only educator in the world to be bestowed this award in 2014.
“To receive this award at Notre Dame is not only an acknowledgement of my achievements, but also those of teachers and educators with whom I have worked throughout my career,” Br Patrick said.
“Aside from educating, and transmitting knowledge and culture, Catholic educational institutions like Notre Dame and Parramatta Marist also transmit the meaning of life – the preparation for facing growth, the joys, the sorrows and the difficulties of life.”
During her citation, Professor Celia Hammond, Notre Dame Vice Chancellor, said Br Patrick showed outstanding ability to manage both resources and personnel to apply innovative educational methods to improve the learning outcomes of his students.
“Despite his many honours, I feel sure that Br Patrick has been most rewarded by the thousands of students who have left his schools and moved onto work and study inspired by the Marist vision and its dedication to giving the young a solid start in life,” Professor Hammond said.
“Br Patrick has a most distinguished record as a teacher and educator. He is an innovator who remains faithful to the best of the Catholic schools tradition and, above all, he is a faithful son of the Church and a credit to the Marist family.”