I have been doing lots of thinking and wondering about what those of us doing formation in churches can learn from school teachers, practitioners, and educators. In searching the web for information that might help us discover new ways to form our people in the faith, I came across this article (http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/8061) on essential skills for children and youth, based on the “C’s” of education. The “C’s” of education vary depending on which list you turn to, but the most comprehensive list is Communication, Connection, Collaboration/Cooperation, Creation/Contribution, Community, Continual Learning, and Culture. If we think about how we can incorporate these into our life of faith and our learning, I think we could go a long way toward a more holistic approach to learning.
However, the writer of the article, said that maybe there was one “C” to rule them all. Control. Not the teacher having more control of the learner, but rather, the learner having control or ownership of their learning. What if we were able to come up with ways in which the learners were more invested, engaged, and involved in their own learning? Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd do this to some extent for younger children, but what about for youth? How are we giving them the opportunity to really delve into the areas of faith and religion that interest them? How can we set up our learning spaces to reflect that we are all learners and explorers on our journey of faith?
For our youth (and anyone else in the church really) to develop deep learning and engagement with their faith, they need to experience and choose and participate more in their learning. Most of us have seen a teenager who has become passionate about an issue be able to preach about it, raise money for it, and bring others into the conversation. How do we mentor teenagers on their faith journey as they take ownership of their own learning? How can we facilitate new conversation and collaboration and connection among our youth as they learn, grow, and experience their faith in a new way?
I don’t know the answers to many of these questions because I am just grappling with them myself. But I wonder what our environments might look like if we took this notion seriously. What if we thought of formation as more like coaching than teaching? Where we give them the tools and the motivation they need, and then let their natural talents, curiosity, and passion inform their work? I’m just beginning to toy with this idea, and would love to hear from you if you have thoughts about this idea: Shannon@episcoformation.org.
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