Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

27 March 2013

Positive experience – opening the way

The current generation of students likes to learn in a very hands on way. Teachers across many subject areas seek to provide students with concrete experiences to fire their imagination and help them engage more deeply with the topic under investigation. But to what degree is this done in religious or Christian education?

There are many things schools can do (and are doing) to provide students with interesting experiences in the realm of religious or Christian education. These include things like:
  •  visiting a church or a cathedral
  • participating in a worship service
  •  looking at Biblical coins
  • receiving a visit from a local minister or international missionary
  • engaging in prayer, stillness or silence
  • visiting the holy place of another religion
  • engaging in community service

 Reading a few chapters  of research from “Religion, education and adolescence” edited by Francis, Robbins and Astley recently, highlighted the importance of some of these activities and of doing them in a very intentional way.

Leslie Francis in the first chapter on prayer, personality and purpose in life discovered that there is a positive correlation between frequency of prayer and perceived purpose in life. Significantly she found that ‘the relationship holds good both among young people who never attend church and among young people who attend church in most weeks”.  This suggests that exposing young people to prayer and giving them opportunities to do it, even if they have no church affiliation potentially improves their wellbeing. It is also pointed out that young people are seeking meaning in life and therefore churches (but this includes religious educators) have something that young people desire.

Chapter Six by William K Kay shows that religious experience is linked with a greater acceptance of religious education and collective worship in schools. Kay points out that religious experience doesn't equate with church attendance or membership. He goes on to specifically point out that religious education should seek to provide students with experiences of a religious kind in the classroom and if this was done there would be beneficial effects on young people’s acceptance of religious education.

Both of these chapters suggest to me that we need to be more intentional about providing young people with engaging spiritual experiences. This will benefit both the young person and the practice of religious education.

I wonder how religious and Christian education may more deeply engage young people in a more experiential way so that it may become something of great value to their lives.

14 March 2013

Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible sets out to tell “the one story underneath all the stories of the Bible” and “invites children to see that Jesus is not only at the centre of God’s great story of redemption - he is at the centre of their story too.”

Sally-Lloyd Jones does a beautiful job of telling the stories of the Bible with a rich and visual language that is sure to engage children’s imaginations. In particular I like the way she is able to communicate passion in the stories. The illustrations also have a simple dynamism that sits nicely with the text.

Written for children four and up, the Jesus Storybook Bible works its way through key stories of the Old and New Testaments, always trying to connect them to the life and purpose of Jesus. There is a curriculum available with lessons for every story including a video telling the story and voiced by David Suchet.

8 March 2013

Entering the Eucharist

Strand(s):  Christian Traditions

Year level: Upper Primary, Lower Primary, Early Childhood

Phase: Orient

Time: n/a

Summary: Units that explore the Eucharist can begin helping students reflect on their own experience of special meals.

Highlight for students that:
Sometimes a meal is more than a meal. It is a celebration, a way of remembering or the beginning of something new.

Eg. Wedding reception, B’day or Anniversary meal, Sunday roast, Christmas lunch.

Invite students to identify special meals that they have participated in.
 “When do we celebrate with a meal?”
“What special events often have a meal as part of the celebration?”

In small learning teams, students select one of the celebrations and record symbols associated with the celebration.
“What things are used as part of this meal to make it special?”
This could include decorations or activities.

E.g. symbols for a birthday party might include balloons, candles, cake, party poppers etc.

Students design and construct a display of the celebratory meal as a diorama, poster, table setting, or a photographic display.

Students reflect on an experience they have had when they gathered for a meal to celebrate a special occasion. They write a sentence beginning with, “I remember when we gathered for a meal to celebrate ….” Students include their feelings in the sentence. These sentences are attached to the appropriate display.