This has been a big issue for me for years.My wife substitutes at a local Catholic parochial school and when she asked an upper grade class when they usually do religion, one of the students said, "O, Ms. So and So usually does the important stuff first...." meaning Math, Literature etc.When the kids have their annual testing in math skills, verbal skills, etc, what is the message when there is no serious testing in knowledge of the faith? Obviously, that it is a second rate, unimportant subject.I nearly asked the pastor of the parish this year to go on a campaign both in school Masses and Sunday Masses that religion is the children's most important subject. Not only does it teach you how to get to Heaven, it teaches you how to get answers to prayer, how to become more virtuous and holy, how to become happy in this world and the next, etc., etc., etc.. THE MOST IMPORTANT SUBJECT.Yet most Catholic schools do not treat it as such. When our children were small, we encountered the vapid religion textbook problem in the local parochial school. They provided tons of religious atmosphere, but not much else. So we began semi-homeschooling, reading the Chronicles of Narnia, a life of a saint and then 20 minutes of the Baltimore Catechism every evening. This was mostly for the benefit of by 6 yr old son, but his 4 yr old sister was listening in on all of this, and went into first grade knowing more, far more about her faith that the school's 8th grade graduates. Children at that age LOVE to memorize things.We ought to take full advantage of that fact.Instead we get into the religion text book wars. My view is, fine, do new religion texts beginning in third grade, so long as the child arrives at the end of second grade knowing the Baltimore Catechism inside out. This is very possible.
Lee, I think a lot of people think religion is silly kid's stuff because they were taught a silly kid's version of it.I taught fifth grade catechism one year using the books recommended by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The books taught some good things and had many pictures, but they were dumbed down and boring as all get-out. I had no teaching experience and didn't know what to do. But one day I happened to read the story of Pentecost straight from Acts 2, and the kids got fascinated and started asking many questions. The Bible's waaay more interesting than condescending kids' stuff. Another time I got an unexpected buzz from them when I wrote out the Latin they sometimes hear at Mass: "Agnus Dei, qui tollit peccata mundi..."
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