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Author Topic: Documentary claims age-graded Sunday school harms families  (Read 1706 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 09, 2012, 09:43:25 AM »

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. (ABP) -- A controversial new documentary movie contends age-graded Sunday school and youth ministry are doing more harm than good.

In Divided, young filmmaker Philip Leclerc sets out to discover why so many people of his generation are leaving the church. The answer, he says, is the "hipster Christianity" approach to youth ministry, centering on fun and games with Bible study tacked on, and the notion that youth pastors are more qualified to train children than their parents.

Leclerc acknowledges grouping kids and age and developmental stages makes sense on the surface. In the Bible, however, parents are given the responsibility for religious instruction of their children.
....
The film, produced in association with The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, comes on the heels of a book by the center's director, Scott Brown, which describes modern youth ministry as a "50-year-old failed experiment" that is "destroying the younger generation, fragmenting the family and dividing the church."
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 12:49:50 PM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room.  Dividing & conquering is "easier" so we can "manage" the children.  That doesn't sound like a church to me.  And, only the devil divides, God unites. 
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012, 12:54:39 PM »

^I read about this too, and I think the premise is quite noteworthy in that parents have largely abdicated their roles as  being the primary teachers to their children with regards to the Christian faith.  How do we solve that issue?  Perpetuating an institution which does not address the problem of parents is not the solution nor is the complete abandonment of Sunday School.

My question for everyone on this forum (Maybe I'll start a poll), do your kids come to Liturgy with you or do they attend a Sunday school session while Liturgy is going on?
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2012, 12:58:21 PM »

I have a few memories of the classes in my old church. Seems to have been good, though they kept it fairly traditional and didn't have lots of computer stuff or projectors or song-and-dance to deal with (the Internet wasn't around at the time). We just had simple Bible stories, catechism for kids, singing... that kind of thing.
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2012, 01:14:08 PM »

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 01:33:12 PM »

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 
I think thats the problem. Most go to Sundays School instead of services. I know I did when I was a kid. Age based schooling is good, but not when it is done as a substitution of worship.

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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2012, 02:12:09 PM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2012, 02:43:12 PM »

I always enjoyed going to a different class than my brothers, I mean I had to see them the rest of the week any way so time off was nice  Grin

On a serious note, it seems to me that I usually went to a SS class before the service and then was forced to sit through the torturous event known as a Baptist sermon. One church I attended did have what they called "Junior Church" for youth aged people during the service; it was pretty much just church lite with coloring and activities.

At my parish now they have SS during Matins so the carpet commandos can be with you during the Liturgy. My old parish I think had SS after communion. I really like the idea of having the children with you during the service instead of carted off to some room with a teacher that is way too cheery in the morning. Of course things can be a little stressed when all the rug rats start screaming and what not, but that is expected of the tykes.

And personally I don't think that it harms or causes division in the home, like lord doog said your spiritual needs mature as you get older. It's almost like saying that divisions in grades at school cause division in the home, it doesn't its just that you have different needs educational wise as you become older.
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 03:47:51 PM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.


what about "if it worked for christ, it can work for us"  ??
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 04:15:34 PM »

I'm not a fan of the current Sunday School set-up, and agree with a number of conclusions reached in the documentary (which I watched a few months ago).

1. Parents should be the primary religious educators in a Child's life, and the Church should focus on educating parents.

2. Fathers are especially critical in the religious education of children, as the usual trend is for mothers to handle "religious stuff" and, thus, the Church and faith are seen as only feminine, and not both masculine and feminine, from the POV of the kids.  Both parents should be heavily involved, and when the child does not have both parents, a suitable person should be found to play the active role of the missing role model (aunt/uncle, family friend, etc.).

3. Strict age-based division is not beneficial to the kids education, and does not adequately meet the kids where their needs are (which we also see in secular education, where strict age division leaves some kids behind, and holds others back, in order to cater to the 60% in the middle), nor does it reflect social interaction in the real world (where we're not bunched into groups of 30 by age).  At the very least we need to drop the model of separating each grade, and grouping kids into 4-year bunches (2yr-6yr, 1st grade-4th, 5th-8th, 9th-12th).

4. Christ's words about not forbidding the children to come to Him should ring true for us, also: Christ was preaching a message to adults that He wanted the kids to hear also; it was a message against age segregation.  IMO, we shouldn't have Sunday School, children's choirs, "children's liturgies," etc. but One Liturgy, an education based on the family unit and the entire parish community, rooted in the liturgical life, scripture, and patristic writings, and founded on prayer.
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2012, 04:39:46 PM »

i think age groupings should be only loosely held to.
so if u have a kid who is a new Christian or who is not that academic, they could hang out with the slightly younger kids, and if u have one who is already preaching to their toys they could be with the older ones.
i also think it's good for kids over the age of 13 to help with the younger kids instead of go to classes, that is if those young people have already learnt enough and are benefitting from the preaching in the liturgy.

all this only works in fairly small church groups.
i really do think that if you have more than 50 or 100 in yr church, you should form 2 smaller churches. that way you can reach out more effectively to the people around you as the people will then be living nearer the church, so they will know their neighbours.

i have recently visited a church that did this (divide into 2 because of having too many people) and it worked well for them.
in this church there seem to be about equal numbers of men and women involved in church service and church attendance, so as father george said, this will give more balance.
i think the orthodox church is better at providing gender balance than many other groups, especially in churches that emphasise the risky and exciting nature of following God.

but as for sunday school there are many ways to do it 'right' in different cultures and different ages. as long as u focus on teaching correct theology to the children and the adults, show them how to have a good spiritual life and show children that the liturgy is equally as much for them as for adults (i mean explain it to them in kids groups) then you are on the right track.
may God guide us.
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2012, 04:52:33 PM »

I'm not a fan of the current Sunday School set-up, and agree with a number of conclusions reached in the documentary (which I watched a few months ago).

1. Parents should be the primary religious educators in a Child's life, and the Church should focus on educating parents.

2. Fathers are especially critical in the religious education of children, as the usual trend is for mothers to handle "religious stuff" and, thus, the Church and faith are seen as only feminine, and not both masculine and feminine, from the POV of the kids.  Both parents should be heavily involved, and when the child does not have both parents, a suitable person should be found to play the active role of the missing role model (aunt/uncle, family friend, etc.).

That reminds me of something that my priest once said: "nobody taught me how to make the sign of the cross or how to pray, I learned simply by seeing my parents and godparents doing it; likewise, your children will learn their faith from you."

Quote
3. Strict age-based division is not beneficial to the kids education, and does not adequately meet the kids where their needs are (which we also see in secular education, where strict age division leaves some kids behind, and holds others back, in order to cater to the 60% in the middle), nor does it reflect social interaction in the real world (where we're not bunched into groups of 30 by age).  At the very least we need to drop the model of separating each grade, and grouping kids into 4-year bunches (2yr-6yr, 1st grade-4th, 5th-8th, 9th-12th).

4. Christ's words about not forbidding the children to come to Him should ring true for us, also: Christ was preaching a message to adults that He wanted the kids to hear also; it was a message against age segregation.  IMO, we shouldn't have Sunday School, children's choirs, "children's liturgies," etc. but One Liturgy, an education based on the family unit and the entire parish community, rooted in the liturgical life, scripture, and patristic writings, and founded on prayer.

Amen amen!
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2012, 05:14:26 PM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.


what about "if it worked for christ, it can work for us"  ??

If you can serve the needs of every grade in the class within the half hour to hour lesson, then by all means go for it. I'm speaking from my experience that when I had 1st - 3rd grades in my class one group would benefit while the other would suffer. And the same is true for my brother's 4th - 7th grade class. For if I had just told the story of David and Goliath, for example, the first graders would have benefitted by learning the story, but the 3rd graders wouldn't have. And if I focused on how we as David must overcome the Goliaths in the world (sin, temptation, etc) as the lesson, the 3rd grade would have benefitted, but the 1st grade would have been completely lost. And by focusing on both, confusion might have abounded and/or we would have insufficient time.

And by the way, the whole "divide and conquer" argument doesn't really hold water. We are not teaching each grade a different theology and thus dividing the church, we are rather giving deeper understandings in accordance with the mental capacities of the ages being taught.
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 12:48:26 AM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.


what about "if it worked for christ, it can work for us"  ??

If you can serve the needs of every grade in the class within the half hour to hour lesson, then by all means go for it. I'm speaking from my experience that when I had 1st - 3rd grades in my class one group would benefit while the other would suffer. And the same is true for my brother's 4th - 7th grade class. For if I had just told the story of David and Goliath, for example, the first graders would have benefitted by learning the story, but the 3rd graders wouldn't have. And if I focused on how we as David must overcome the Goliaths in the world (sin, temptation, etc) as the lesson, the 3rd grade would have benefitted, but the 1st grade would have been completely lost. And by focusing on both, confusion might have abounded and/or we would have insufficient time.

And by the way, the whole "divide and conquer" argument doesn't really hold water. We are not teaching each grade a different theology and thus dividing the church, we are rather giving deeper understandings in accordance with the mental capacities of the ages being taught.
But is this intellectual book learning the ONLY thing we want our children to learn?
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2012, 03:20:40 AM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.


what about "if it worked for christ, it can work for us"  ??

If you can serve the needs of every grade in the class within the half hour to hour lesson, then by all means go for it. I'm speaking from my experience that when I had 1st - 3rd grades in my class one group would benefit while the other would suffer. And the same is true for my brother's 4th - 7th grade class. For if I had just told the story of David and Goliath, for example, the first graders would have benefitted by learning the story, but the 3rd graders wouldn't have. And if I focused on how we as David must overcome the Goliaths in the world (sin, temptation, etc) as the lesson, the 3rd grade would have benefitted, but the 1st grade would have been completely lost. And by focusing on both, confusion might have abounded and/or we would have insufficient time.

And by the way, the whole "divide and conquer" argument doesn't really hold water. We are not teaching each grade a different theology and thus dividing the church, we are rather giving deeper understandings in accordance with the mental capacities of the ages being taught.
But is this intellectual book learning the ONLY thing we want our children to learn?

I have heard more than one priest say that their grandmothers were the ones who taught them the Orthodox faith.
They remember going to church with their yia-yias, listening to them tell the lives of holy men and women, and praying with them.
Wise relatives are very important, but in this very mobile age, many children do not have contact with their grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles.
Cousins, being young, may not be the best influence.
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2012, 04:11:08 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.


what about "if it worked for christ, it can work for us"  ??

If you can serve the needs of every grade in the class within the half hour to hour lesson, then by all means go for it. I'm speaking from my experience that when I had 1st - 3rd grades in my class one group would benefit while the other would suffer. And the same is true for my brother's 4th - 7th grade class. For if I had just told the story of David and Goliath, for example, the first graders would have benefitted by learning the story, but the 3rd graders wouldn't have. And if I focused on how we as David must overcome the Goliaths in the world (sin, temptation, etc) as the lesson, the 3rd grade would have benefitted, but the 1st grade would have been completely lost. And by focusing on both, confusion might have abounded and/or we would have insufficient time.

And by the way, the whole "divide and conquer" argument doesn't really hold water. We are not teaching each grade a different theology and thus dividing the church, we are rather giving deeper understandings in accordance with the mental capacities of the ages being taught.
But is this intellectual book learning the ONLY thing we want our children to learn?

Of course not, but Sunday School isn't exactly intellectual learning, it is spiritual.  Now, if your argument is that kids would benefit better by being in Divine Liturgy and experiencing worship directly, I agree, but that only is an issue if parishes compete with Sunday school at the same time as Divine Liturgy.  In our parish, we conduct our Sunday School at the same time as the clergy give their sermons/homilies in the Sanctuary, and so realistically what we are doing is simply facilitating the same thing the adults have at an age-appropriate level.

Further, when we study the Bible, or learn about our Church history/theology, or when we explain the symbolism and imagery of our worship, or when we simply fellowship, these are spiritual exercise, this is synergy, it is not strictly intellectual (unless folks are scholastic Catholics Wink )

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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2012, 05:44:25 PM »

I only have one simple goal for teaching Sunday School (I teach preteens up to 13) and that is for my kids to have a relationship with another faithful (hopefully!) adult, other than their parents. So that if the time comes (more than likely it will, as we all know) and they need help or have questions, they know they can count on me.

P.S. One of my kids came up to me during our Christmas "break" and asked when Sunday School would start again.
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2012, 06:27:57 PM »

I saw this.  I actually thought his premise was very interesting.  I wonder if it would really be a bad thing to have ALL ages in one room. 

I tend to think having all ages in one room is not a very beneficial idea. As you get older, your spiritual needs mature. You start to be able to think and reason on a different level, and just learning Bible stories aren't enough. It is very difficult trying to balance the needs of a 7th grader with those of a 3rd grader in the same class. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time with 1st-3rd grade, and my brother was struggling with 4th-7th grades.

As for the parents issue, Sunday School should be more of a supplement than a replacement. Parents are the main participants in their child's upbringing, religious and otherwise. A lot of times, however, parents forget that or they want the responsibility to go to someone else (i.e. Sunday School servants - we serve, we don't teach. The Holy Spirit teaches).

We start SS immidiately after Communion.  so they get most of liturgy. 

In our church we have Sunday School directly after liturgy while the priest is giving his sermon in arabic (there's an english sermon right after reading the Gospel for the benefit of the youth). This has been working really well so far.


what about "if it worked for christ, it can work for us"  ??

If you can serve the needs of every grade in the class within the half hour to hour lesson, then by all means go for it. I'm speaking from my experience that when I had 1st - 3rd grades in my class one group would benefit while the other would suffer. And the same is true for my brother's 4th - 7th grade class. For if I had just told the story of David and Goliath, for example, the first graders would have benefitted by learning the story, but the 3rd graders wouldn't have. And if I focused on how we as David must overcome the Goliaths in the world (sin, temptation, etc) as the lesson, the 3rd grade would have benefitted, but the 1st grade would have been completely lost. And by focusing on both, confusion might have abounded and/or we would have insufficient time.

And by the way, the whole "divide and conquer" argument doesn't really hold water. We are not teaching each grade a different theology and thus dividing the church, we are rather giving deeper understandings in accordance with the mental capacities of the ages being taught.
But is this intellectual book learning the ONLY thing we want our children to learn?

No, but that's my point. Book learning is fine for younger grades where that's as much information as they can process. But as they get older, their capacity for thinking is much higher and are able to understand such things as Habte was speaking about (theology, symbolism, etc). By combining multiple grades into one class, you hinder the older kids from this type of growth to accomodate the capacity of the younger kids.
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2012, 07:54:48 PM »

In my parish, everyone is at the liturgy.  We have Sunday School prior to liturgy. 
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« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2012, 11:06:35 AM »

quote: P.S. One of my kids came up to me during our Christmas "break" and asked when Sunday School would start again.

Christmas break for sunday school!
 Shocked
that's the time kids have most time for attending church, as they have less homework. we should do extra sunday school then!
when i was a little protestant kid, we always had breaks during holidays.
i used to ask why God had to go on holiday and where he was!

of course, this didn't impress the teachers...
 Wink

so if the regular teachers are tired, other teachers should step in, or do some kind of spiritual 'holiday club' where there is lots of Bible teaching and lots of time for kids to share about their own relationship with God and their own struggles.
sorry, i don't mean offence, i love yr posts, but please, no more holiday 'breaks' for church! if u need a 'break' have it mid term when the kids are busy with exams.
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« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2012, 12:13:53 PM »

quote: P.S. One of my kids came up to me during our Christmas "break" and asked when Sunday School would start again.

Christmas break for sunday school!
 Shocked
that's the time kids have most time for attending church, as they have less homework. we should do extra sunday school then!
when i was a little protestant kid, we always had breaks during holidays.
i used to ask why God had to go on holiday and where he was!

of course, this didn't impress the teachers...
 Wink

so if the regular teachers are tired, other teachers should step in, or do some kind of spiritual 'holiday club' where there is lots of Bible teaching and lots of time for kids to share about their own relationship with God and their own struggles.
sorry, i don't mean offence, i love yr posts, but please, no more holiday 'breaks' for church! if u need a 'break' have it mid term when the kids are busy with exams.

I take your point, but I think you're basing it on an assumption that all the kids go to the same school system with the same schedule, which is simply not the case with our paris.Our parishioners come from all over a major metropolitan area. Our kids are on different school schedules - different school systems, private schools, homeschooling.
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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2012, 12:35:38 PM »

I'm not a fan of the current Sunday School set-up, and agree with a number of conclusions reached in the documentary (which I watched a few months ago).

1. Parents should be the primary religious educators in a Child's life, and the Church should focus on educating parents.
AMEN!
2. Fathers are especially critical in the religious education of children, as the usual trend is for mothers to handle "religious stuff" and, thus, the Church and faith are seen as only feminine, and not both masculine and feminine, from the POV of the kids.  Both parents should be heavily involved, and when the child does not have both parents, a suitable person should be found to play the active role of the missing role model (aunt/uncle, family friend, etc.).
A study was done on religious observance in the mother and the father and the effect on not only the children but the grandchildren IIRC.  What it found was that the mother's observance didn't correlate to the observance of the children especially when they grew up.  It was nearly all tied to the father.  The only exception was with a devout father and an anti-religious mother, in which case the rate of religious attatchment was higher, as if the mother's hostility only served to cement imitation of the father.

3. Strict age-based division is not beneficial to the kids education, and does not adequately meet the kids where their needs are (which we also see in secular education, where strict age division leaves some kids behind, and holds others back, in order to cater to the 60% in the middle), nor does it reflect social interaction in the real world (where we're not bunched into groups of 30 by age).  At the very least we need to drop the model of separating each grade, and grouping kids into 4-year bunches (2yr-6yr, 1st grade-4th, 5th-8th, 9th-12th).
That seems to work for us.

4. Christ's words about not forbidding the children to come to Him should ring true for us, also: Christ was preaching a message to adults that He wanted the kids to hear also; it was a message against age segregation.  IMO, we shouldn't have Sunday School, children's choirs, "children's liturgies," etc. but One Liturgy, an education based on the family unit and the entire parish community, rooted in the liturgical life, scripture, and patristic writings, and founded on prayer.
In most places the "children's liturgies" are the ones in English (which I noticed had a number of adults).
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« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2012, 09:55:40 PM »

I'm not a fan of the current Sunday School set-up, and agree with a number of conclusions reached in the documentary (which I watched a few months ago).

1. Parents should be the primary religious educators in a Child's life, and the Church should focus on educating parents.

2. Fathers are especially critical in the religious education of children, as the usual trend is for mothers to handle "religious stuff" and, thus, the Church and faith are seen as only feminine, and not both masculine and feminine, from the POV of the kids.  Both parents should be heavily involved, and when the child does not have both parents, a suitable person should be found to play the active role of the missing role model (aunt/uncle, family friend, etc.).

3. Strict age-based division is not beneficial to the kids education, and does not adequately meet the kids where their needs are (which we also see in secular education, where strict age division leaves some kids behind, and holds others back, in order to cater to the 60% in the middle), nor does it reflect social interaction in the real world (where we're not bunched into groups of 30 by age).  At the very least we need to drop the model of separating each grade, and grouping kids into 4-year bunches (2yr-6yr, 1st grade-4th, 5th-8th, 9th-12th).

4. Christ's words about not forbidding the children to come to Him should ring true for us, also: Christ was preaching a message to adults that He wanted the kids to hear also; it was a message against age segregation.  IMO, we shouldn't have Sunday School, children's choirs, "children's liturgies," etc. but One Liturgy, an education based on the family unit and the entire parish community, rooted in the liturgical life, scripture, and patristic writings, and founded on prayer.

QFT

Re. 3 - Allowing children to be taught in such groups helps because older children are usually better behaved knowing that they are serving as role models. My son enjoyed being in these groups as he liked helping the younger students when he was older.

Re. 4 - Choirs who allow young folk at age 8 to join the adult choir have a very positive influence on the child. That child will usually continue to sing in the choir as an adult.
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« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2012, 12:42:13 PM »

I grew up in various Evangelical circles and rarely saw my family on Sundays. I'd be with them for 10 minutes or so to sing a few songs and what not, then we'd be separated the rest of the time as I went with my age group for the rest of the day. I'm quite opposed to that, and I was opposed to that long before I became Orthodox. Youth-oriented Christianity is destructive, IMHO, and Sunday is not a time for public school-esque socialization techniques (at least that's what I saw in my experience).

The Liturgy itself is educational, if we pay attention and participate. I certainly do agree with educating children (and educating everyone else, for that matter), and catechesis is absolutely mandatory on a more individualized level, even for those who are already in the door (in other words, not just for catechumens and enquirers). But that can't be done at the expense of separating families during the Liturgy or whatever another group may call their service.

In my Orthodox experience I've seen three models: Sunday School before Liturgy, Sunday School after Liturgy (i.e., after the ENTIRE Liturgy is over and all applicable post-communion prayers are complete and the cross has been venerated, etc), and "Sunday" School on Wednesday evening. I think that I prefer the Wednesday model.
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« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2012, 02:50:54 AM »

I grew up in various Evangelical circles and rarely saw my family on Sundays. I'd be with them for 10 minutes or so to sing a few songs and what not, then we'd be separated the rest of the time as I went with my age group for the rest of the day. I'm quite opposed to that, and I was opposed to that long before I became Orthodox. Youth-oriented Christianity is destructive, IMHO, and Sunday is not a time for public school-esque socialization techniques (at least that's what I saw in my experience).

The Liturgy itself is educational, if we pay attention and participate. I certainly do agree with educating children (and educating everyone else, for that matter), and catechesis is absolutely mandatory on a more individualized level, even for those who are already in the door (in other words, not just for catechumens and enquirers). But that can't be done at the expense of separating families during the Liturgy or whatever another group may call their service.

In my Orthodox experience I've seen three models: Sunday School before Liturgy, Sunday School after Liturgy (i.e., after the ENTIRE Liturgy is over and all applicable post-communion prayers are complete and the cross has been venerated, etc), and "Sunday" School on Wednesday evening. I think that I prefer the Wednesday model.
What about the Wednesday model leads you to prefer it?
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« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2012, 02:04:30 PM »

I really don't buy the idea that children need yo be corralled away to learn. Everyone should be together and most children can quite easily pick up on ideas being expressed in the manner adults are taught. Not everything, but as they get older they will get more, and eventually they will be adults... Whereas from what I see, people herded into age segregated 'classes' often never loose their childish mentality (which is how we ended up with modern day coffee time rock-n-roll laser light show pseudo-churches, and shouldn't surprise anyone). Children learn how to be from their parents and adults... if you stick them with 20-60 other kids all the time that's all they are ever going to be.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 02:08:32 PM by Jason.Wike » Logged
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« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2012, 03:36:09 PM »

But, based on my experience with my middle-schoolers in Sunday School, they are much more likely to ask questions or talk about things that are bothering them if they are not with their parents or a lot of other adults. One of the things the kids and I talk about - a lot - is how to handle being Orthodox in a Baptigelical Bible Belt environment.
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« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2012, 06:37:12 PM »

But, based on my experience with my middle-schoolers in Sunday School, they are much more likely to ask questions or talk about things that are bothering them if they are not with their parents or a lot of other adults. One of the things the kids and I talk about - a lot - is how to handle being Orthodox in a Baptigelical Bible Belt environment.

 
I really don't buy the idea that children need yo be corralled away to learn. Everyone should be together and most children can quite easily pick up on ideas being expressed in the manner adults are taught. Not everything, but as they get older they will get more, and eventually they will be adults... Whereas from what I see, people herded into age segregated 'classes' often never loose their childish mentality (which is how we ended up with modern day coffee time rock-n-roll laser light show pseudo-churches, and shouldn't surprise anyone). Children learn how to be from their parents and adults... if you stick them with 20-60 other kids all the time that's all they are ever going to be.

I feel like there's a way to do both.   Do a major part of the class together, but then break out into small groups based on age, so we can cover things that are specific to developmental issues. 

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« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2012, 07:21:08 PM »

Here's the whole documentary (with subtitles is some other language).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XN4XsZRRds&feature=related
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