Faith Formation Focus by Janen Wright
It is time to create a new Religious Education Teaching Ministry Team for next Fall and to give our teachers, new and returning, space to create community for our kids. I love these words spoken by Thoreau on the topic of creation. “It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
One of the greatest reasons to be a teacher in the R.E. program is to “affect the quality of the day” for our young people. If there is one thing I have learned about teaching it is that the teacher is the curriculum. What matters most is who we are inside as teachers and whether or not we care about the kids we teach and, only secondarily, the subject that we are teaching. The thing that we as teachers have to bring to the classroom is no more and no less than who we are inside. In his excellent book, The Courage to Teach, Palmer says, “In every story I have heard, good teachers share one trait: a strong sense of personal identity that infuses their work.”
At UUCB all R.E. teachers are part time so you can give the gift of your identity to a class, with all the challenge and growth that entails, while also attending worship services on a regular basis. To talk specifics about the opportunity of being a teacher for our kids and youth at UUCB and exactly what it entails, don’t hesitate to contact me. Janen Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although I just finished saying that the teacher is the curriculum, the R.E. Ministry Team and I will provide lesson manuals for each class next year. Our focus will be on learning about World Religions, in the service of understanding our own faith better. We are looking into offering Neighboring Faiths for our Middle Schoolers and one of my favorite UU curriculum for kids is called Holidays and Holy Days of which I am sure many of you are familiar. Though it has been around for a while it’s genius is that it focuses on holidays from around the world and we all know that kids are always up for a celebration! I taught this class in Idaho and I loved the natural enthusiasm and interest of the kids when it comes to learning about kids on the other side of the world and the holidays they celebrate, mixed in with our own UU traditions.
Let me share with you what it says in the introduction of Holidays and Holy Days, “Holidays are the natural, age-old vehicle of religious socialization, setting time aside to remember a great person or event, give thanks for life’s bounty: harvest, safety, freedom, warmth, or invoke light and gladness for overcoming darkness and danger, death and drought. Festivities tell a story which children absorb through experiences far more than through words.”
So let’s create! Let’s gather together our resources and authentic passions in the service of making wonderful memories and opportunities for both teacher and learner in our Religious Education program next fall.
Janen Wright, Director of Faith Formation