Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Maturing education

When your baby crawls up to the outlet, you just say "No!" and remove or distract the child. You don't get into a big lengthy discussion; it would be water off a duck's back.
When your five-year-old approaches the outlet, you say "No, you get hurt. There's electricity there." Or something of the like; a little more information is appropriate.
When your fifteen-year-old brings up the outlet, you can discuss alternating versus direct current, voltage, amperes, et cetera. Electrocution, death, circuit breakers versus fuses are all up for grabs.

The same goes with religious education. When we're just starting to learn, we hear all of the "Thou shalt nots" and the "good children don't" because that's where you start. I mean, you hear "No running in the halls" as a rule, and nobody considers it restrictive and repressive. You don't really need to go into deep discussions of injury to self and others by running.

On a similar note, children don't even know where babies come from at five years old. Trying to explain the implications of embryonic stem cell research compared to life beginning at conception involves a more technical discussion than I think my kids could handle.

The problem is folks don't continue their religious education into adulthood. They stop at eighth grade. After that, they're left to optional (and all-too-often imperfectly orthodox) Youth Groups, unless they're in Catholic schools (and those aren't a given as far as orthodoxy, either). Is there any other subject we toss to the winds before high school? Just speaking from my own experience, I was required to take at least three years of math, three of science, four of English. Even a semester of swim class was mandatory. This was public school.

But religion? Mass weekly (or weakly, depending). But thinking long-term, is there any more important subject than the Faith? You learn "Thou shalt not commit adultery" in third grade. It gets covered again later, but not in any real depth. And it withers away to silence once the hormones kick in. In high school, or adulthood, when the student can comprehend the dignity of the human person, the cheapening of human life effect of contraception, the sacrament that is matrimony, the need of a child for both parents, the unconditional acceptance of a spouse exemplified by the marital act, and marriage as visible symbol of Christ and His Church, you're on your own.

What are the results? Among others, the idea that the Church is a negative religion full of "Thou shalt nots" with some celibate dictator in his ivory tower not letting anyone else have any fun either. Or it's a disconnected set of archaic prohibitions set up long ago with little meaning in the modern world. And the Bible is a collection of stories written by men (gasp!) in order to repress others (usually women).

What are some solutions? Better homiletics? Adult formation programs? A cutting edge public relations campaign? Okay, that last one is a joke.

We can start on the grassroots level, in our homes. Take responsibility for our own children's education and wait for the trickle-up effect. Educate ourselves and share what we know with willing listeners. Blog (just ask Dan Rather). And pray.


At 8:07 PM, Blogger Diane said...

Back in my Sunday school days, nobody would explain to us what adultery was; it only mattered that we memorized the list properly. I had a vague impression that committing adultery meant being adult-like, i.e. old and boring.

At 5:59 AM, Blogger Heather said...

Shortly after we got married, I had to teach third graders the Ten Commandments. I had them paraphrase them into "Third Grade-ese".
We came up with "No getting mushy with someone who's not your spouse." The only question I got was "What's a spouse?" And not once did I use the word 'sex.' These were third graders, after all.
But Diane, what you say is EXACTLY what I mean. Memorize the list, but no explanation; by the time you're old enough to understand an explanation, you're gone.


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