Sunday, October 26, 2008

30-Step Program

Having 30 evening classes (about 50 minutes of teaching time) to cover the content of a 180-class textbook has been a productive challenge. The kids are burned out from a regular school day; they are here because they have to be; it's not like, y'know, real school; and if you warm the desk a minimum number of times, you pass.

Among the ways I've chosen to stuff eight great tomatoes in the itty bitty can is to use Bible stories, often acted out with the kids' help, to engage their imagination and attention. I'm sure everyone who teaches Christianity to kids does this. I learned oodles of Bible stories as a child myself. The thing is, I didn't learn how to connect them to one another thematically, and to see how they interrelate to create a Biblical Catholic worldview...which they do. In our class, with time being worth about $7/gallon, we can't learn a story without extracting lessons from it on the spot, but usually lack time to treat more than one or two points.

For example, in the Healing of the Paralytic there are these ideas the kids can grasp:

Intercession, both physical & spiritual;

The relationship between faith and works;

The relationship between spiritual and physical illness;

The power to forgive sin;

Jesus' way of asking questions instead of just handing out information;

Pride vs. humility.

All these ideas, once learned, will apply to to other lessons. However, the chapter of any given week may only need one of the above points, which works against spending, say, 15 minutes to develop a fuller sense of the story. The teacher's manual has both Bible and Catechism references for each chapter which are valuable, but mostly for a 180-day academic year. I'm thinking that there may be a way to teach the required content better over 30 classes by mining selected stories one at a time, and applying those lessons to the subject matter in the book.

At this point it's just an idea.

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