(Bryan) In our religious education class my students grappled with many issues related to meaning and interpretation of scriptural texts, a respectful approach to dialogue, and understanding classroom contexts. We discussed and worked hard to resist the issue of binary thinking related to the mysteries of Christian faith like Jesus as fully divine and fully human and sought to become teachers who give people room to ask questions. We approached our class from the stance that humans are meaning makers, that we have an innate sense of interpreting what we see that comes from our Creator. Here following for the next group of blog posts are the student reflections as they wrote this together using Google Docs. I think you will see that they are on the journey of becoming GraceFinders… Here is a glimpse into the world of some of our future leaders. I hope you are encouraged as I was and am. Enjoy!
(Stephanie) The Background
As pre-service educators, it is our place to engage and grapple with educational philosophies, structures, and methods to determine what kind of teachers we will become, and even more importantly, what kind of teachers our students need us to be. Most basic to these conversations is something that there seems to be no real consensus on: what is the purpose of education? The issue stems from the various educational philosophies of educators, which have developed over a long course of history, and is made evident by students attitudes when they are asked: why do you think education is important?
I had a chance to ask a class of 14-15 year old students just that. Unsurprisingly, most students responded with “getting a job” as the reason why education is important. Is that just the result of their parents receiving an essentialist education and passing on those philosophies to their children? Or is this a reflection of the teaching style of their educators? Call me a romantic, but I believe teaching should challenge our students to become lifelong learners, not only of content, but of morals and social skills as well. I will give an example: If the essentialist perspective was to dominate, I question if mandatory religion classes would be justifiable when most students will not require theology to obtain a job. Yet, there is immense value in having students engaged in self-reflection, connecting to history, culture and religion, and having a space for students to know their whole-selves are valued, not just their abilities. Let us, as future educators, challenge our students towards more holistic education, valuing both the fundamental school subjects and development of the human person.