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random musings

May 18, 2010

Knock knock...is this thing on?

Let me preface this post by stating my position on politics and religion. I believe: 
  1. that there are good people on all sides of the proverbial fence
  2. identifying [loudly, fiercely] with a single group has no correlation on whether one is good/right and 
  3. free will + brain = responsibility to choose one's own path in life. 
I also believe: 
  • that a critical or agnostic view can encourage healthy skepticism
  • that organized religion offers community and a safe place to have conversations about ethics
  • that it is an obligation of the community to care for the less fortunate
  • that my hard-earned money should not go to support a lifestyle.
That said, I also self-identify as Episcopalian. The whys and personal meanings are not the point of this post.

This past school year, I was asked to lead a Sunday school class for approximately ten high-school aged teens. Beyond the fact that my understanding of Scripture is non-existent limited, the group had a pretty wide range of ages, in terms of development


(7-12th grades). My co-teacher was interested in getting info into their little skulls, but my focus was to get them to think critically. I mean, these are people who will be going off to college in the near future, facing peer pressure, new situations and developing their self-identity. What I really want to do is to empower 'em to ask "why am I doing this?" and articulate that response.  Exploring what Scripture means is an application, but what really they need the tools to evaluate a situation and learn that it's okay to say to a buddy,"I'm not okay with this action/belief system, I'll just do my own thing instead". [I think this is a good skill regardless of age] Another thing I'm big on is that life.is.not.compartmentalized. Lessons from Sunday school are tools for daily life, and vice versa.

And I figure, that at 9a on Sun morning, no one - not even the teachers - want to implement a lecture format. So I'm all about informal discussions. 

Crickets chirping.

My co-teacher would rather have group read sessions and tell stories of when she was young. Half of the kids sleep thru this. The other half talk to each other [she's kind of deaf].

I ask questions that can be answered without thinking for more than 1-2 minutes. The kids look at each other uncomfortably. Eventually I start calling on people - there's a couple kids that are better equipped for a rapid response. Discussion then flows organically.

In another frustrating example, I spoke to one of the kids about whether he wanted to participate in the year-end event, and the response was that he didn't feel comfortable participating in discussion because, to paraphrase: he's not sure what he believes about Church/religion and is exploring. (comes to social events though)

WTF??!! 

So pretty much the consensus of the youth is using brains == bad.

In other news, my graduate advisor was just complaining about how complaints from students are increasing, both in frequency and aggressiveness. Wonderful.

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