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‘Teaching Religion’

One of the books in my current book pile is ‘The Teaching of Religion in Catholic Schools’ by JJ Branigan, I am so fascinated by this book.  Written in 1952 in response to a demand by the Catholic Teachers’ Federation in England this gem addresses the ‘how to’ teach the Faith, citing that the ‘current’ approach of drilling Catechism whilst having its place was producing boredom. 

The author has researched various methods such as the Munich Method which returns to the teaching Methods of the Early Church, each lesson in oral or narrative form, is in three steps, presentation, explanation and application.  And the Vorselaar Method which is taught from a Trinitarian point of view, truth studies through, God, Christ and His Church; Theocentric, Christocentric and Ecclsiocentric, always taught to the child’s capacity to understand.  He goes on to discuss Mother Bolton of New York’s approach, taking 5 lessons to teach ‘God is Love’ because it is ‘not just a lesson to be learnt but lived.’

In England the Father Drinkwater’s aid books contain something of all the methods. Children under 8 are introduced to the love of God by story, picture and mime. Children from 8-11 are encouraged to make their own Catechism by writing questions and answers in their own book, illustrating with drawings or pasting pictures.  Prayers, Hymns, Bibles Stories and Church History appear gradually.  The last stage consists of note taking in Doctrine, Scripture, Liturgy or Church History.

JJ Branigan feels that the above methods do not lay enough emphasis on the later years, 15-18 yr olds.  He addresses this need in his book as well as the younger years.

Pictures, Charts, Models, Art Activities, Dramatisations are all recommended.  For the oldest students, debates and group activities, are also encouraged. The book contains many lessons broken into different age levels, lessons are scripted with Method, Activities and Diagrams. The author does not present this as a comprehensive book but an introduction to his method.

Dramatisations are to be used for lessons on; scripture, liturgy – Sacraments and the Mass and doctrine. The children are to keep special booklets on different subjects; My prayer book, my ejaculation book, My favourite saint book, My Guardian Angel book, Our Lady, Child Jesus, Mass book, First Holy Communion etc

I have much more to read, I am slowly digesting but finding it all quite fascinating.

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