Last year, the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity launched a new offering, Teaching Human Dignity. The Teaching Human Dignity series is a one-of-a-kind collection of units/lesson plans, curriculum resources, and expert guides that empowers teachers to incorporate life and human dignity issues into existing curriculum. These resources are meant to be used in traditional academic disciplines, such that students are formed to recognize the worth of the human person while discussing poetry, analyzing historical events, or learning about biology.
When I first started brainstorming how to teach the topic of human dignity to my eleventh-grade Morality class, I was eager but intimidated. Covering the topic of abortion was a must, but when I sat down to think about how I could cover the topic in a nuanced and compassionate, yet firmly pro-life manner, I was stumped. Many questions flooded my mind: ‘How do I take a firmly pro-life stance, while also expressing compassion for women who have suffered abortions?’ ‘How do I present the pro-life standpoint in a way that is transformative but not preachy?’ ‘How do I help my students see that all people have a right to life, even when that life involves suffering?’
As a former college track and field sprinter, I have spent countless hours of my life practicing. I have struggled through long workouts to build endurance, faster workouts to build speed, weight-lifting to build strength, and shorter workouts to provide rest before a competition. In each one of these instances, I began practice going through a set of drills. While these drills provided the necessary preparation for the workout, they also functioned to train my muscles to behave in a certain manner. Marching, skipping, high knees—all of these tedious drills were extremely important in creating muscle memory. Every sport has a series of drills or routines that athletes perform which allow an athlete to trust her muscles to act in the way she needs them to without thought.
Training and preparation is necessary not only in sports but in all areas of life, especially the moral life.