Have been having trouble making this blog work through Chrome. Finally decided to try Firefox and here I am. Expect a few more postings rather more quickly than my norm as I have a backlog of ideas!
A month or two ago, the RE Committee responded to survey results they had received from parents and made the rather courageous decision to change the way they conduct the RE classes for K-5 children. This past year (and many years prior), children were grouped by class level, with classrooms for K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. All three of these classes were following a similar curriculum called “Spirit Play.”
Here’s a description of Spirit Play:
We see the purpose of religious education as helping children in living into their own answers to the existential questions: Where did we come from? What are we doing here? How do we choose to live our lives? What happens when we die?
The classes follow a Montessori approach, the key elements being the prepared classroom environment and the teachers. These elements free the children to work at their own pace on their own issues after an initial lesson or story within a safe and sacred structure shepherded by two adults.
Based in a proven educational method whose values support Unitarian Universalism:
- Encourages independent thinking through wondering questions
- Gives children real choices within the structure of the morning
- Creates community of children in classroom of mixed ages
- Develops an underlying sense of the spiritual and the mystery of life
- Supports congregational polity through choice of lessons
- Volunteers were found to value the program as part of their own spiritual process
- Volunteers have commented on the low preparation time for weekly stories
Basically, the classroom experience starts with a story, using a story and props that have already been prepared for you. Following the story, children are invited to answer “wondering questions” and work on some activity that applies to the morning’s story.
At UUCA, the Religious Education Committee has decided to combine all children in grades K-5 to hear a single storyteller. In the model we’re trying, the storyteller would tell the same story two weeks in a row. Following the story, the children will then be asked to choose among 3 activities for the day. These activities come out of the interests and passions of our adult members (definitely not just parents with children in RE!). As Benette wrote, “We want you to lead a group of kids from the root of your passions, be it knitting, cooking, calculating, star-gazing, hiking, dancing, drawing, acting, singing, measuring or anything else.”
As a teacher or storyteller, you would get the story way ahead of time, you might ask for suggestions from Joy Berry, but you and a partner would be responsible for an activity. It sounds pretty cool to me. Please volunteer and coerce your UUCA friends to do the same. Volunteer RIGHT NOW by contacting the chair of the RE Committee, Suzanne Klonis.