photo courtesy of InMagine.com
Carolyn Clements hosted a gathering on September 20th for the students, teachers, and parents for Neshoba youth in grades 9-12. Everyone snacked on pizza while having an informal, open forum discussion about how to navigate the religious education for this group. While the meeting did not culminate with a concrete solution for dilemmas facing the teens, it was most definitely a step in the right direction. Neshoba's teens talked candidly about what they did-- and did not-- want from their religious education [RE] while sharing the problems that limit the productivity of the class.
One issue is that many of the teens feel they would benefit from attending service with the adults and hearing the sermon. With a well-organized program that they actually enjoyed, it is safe to infer that most would prefer to be with their own age group. RE teachers want to give the kids something that is informative, intellectually stimulating, and fun.
Another issue is that too much cannot be asked of the teens. This is not to suggest they are not capable, but expecting them to do outside reading and come to class prepared with assignments detracts from the quality of their time together each Sunday. No teenager wants to come to church to feel like they are in school. Whatever is discussed in the classroom should not become a dull lecture. Dialogue is important and the group must be encouraged to speak and give their feedback. Anything that is too structured does not sit well with this group.
Participation is a final issue. Attendance is not always regular, and even for those who regularly attend, sometimes miss church. Furthermore, not all of the teens are comfortable talking in the group setting of RE. There needs to be a way that all of these scenarios are addressed without negatively impacting the overall plan.
Carolyn Clements assumed a leadership role and offered to coordinate the program. The current course of action involves planning the lessons four at a time while allowing room for flexibility. "Ethics and Morals" was chosen as primary topic for discussion. While there is no set curriculum, readings will supplement the lessons. Each of the teachers is committed to creating the best possible RE for the high school student.
Mike Beauchamp, Carolyn Clements, Sloane Reed, and Tracy Love-Silver will teach 9-12 RE or the fall semester.