Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

November 21, 2007

Sharing The Faith


The National Curriculum Framework for high school religion (see below) was developed by the United States Bishops' Committee on Catechesis, under the Department of Education. Work on the framework began in 2003. Both in 2005 and 2007 copies of the guidelines were sent to bishops, diocesan religious education offices, and publishing houses in the United States. The guidelines were then shared locally during each of these years while gathering feedback to return to the Committee on Catechesis. One change in the drafts between 2005 and final approval in 2007 was that the curriculum went from eight required courses or themes to six required courses with five suggested electives.

While the final draft was approved at the recent Bishops' meeting, it has not yet been released to the public. As has been announced, the framework is Christ-centered. A preface from a final draft envisioned

"a Christ-centered catechetical initiative that is intended to have the student encounter the living Lord as he is found in the Church, in the Word of God and in the sacramental life of the Church, most particularly, the Eucharist. In this encounter one also embraces the Christ who calls us to live out our faith in service to others and in the acceptance of his way as the norm four our life's activities. These guidelines also help insure that young people experience a comprehensive treatment of the Church's teaching even if they move from one location to another in the United States."


The Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism reviews catechetical materials to determine their conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It was formed in 1996. Archbishop Alfred Hughes wrote a summary of its work on the ten-year anniversary of the Ad Hoc Committe in 2006. That summary along with other archived Catechism Updates provide a good reference for the work of the bishops in the area of catechesis during that time.

Yesterday's blog report led to a flurry of reactions, both on the blog and to my e-mail address. I appreciated all of the comments. A teacher from California wonders if the focus on Jesus Christ signals "a renewed effort at evangelization." Another e-mail from a long-time and soon-to-be retired teacher from Maryland said:

"Religion is not a subject we merely study; it is a life we live. I find that the burden of handing on our traditions is relegated to the religion classroom rather than being witnessed to by the entire school faculty and staff . . .Schools must follow through on classroom learning with conversion and proclamation and service."


Hopefully, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, our common efforts at catechesis will bear fruit. Certainly we all share a great responsibility for not only the teens who attend Catholic schools, but those they meet and engage in the diverse society they interact in. A favorite article by a young Catholic writer, Anna Nussaum, written as a high school senior in 2001, speaks to the challenges we face but also alludes to the great rewards at perserving at sharing the Good News of Jesus while providing teens with the language and axioms of faith that will last their lifetimes.

Comments

1 Anonymous

Nov. 22, 2007
On yesterday's page there was a link to a Baltimore article which stated that in a unanimous vote of 220-0 the "Bishops approved a curriculum framework for high school catechesis"...In my local diocesan paper the information is different. It reads..."the bishops also OK'd a curriculum framwork for developing curriculum materials for high school students, 117-97." That is very different, and at least leaves me with some hope that there are some bishops who take issue with the proposed (and now passed) curriculum. <BR/>Can you please let me know what the true vote was?

2 Anonymous

Nov. 22, 2007
On yesterday's page there was a link to a Baltimore article which stated that in a unanimous vote of 220-0 the "Bishops approved a curriculum framework for high school catechesis"...In my local diocesan paper the information is different. It reads..."the bishops also OK'd a curriculum framwork for developing curriculum materials for high school students, 117-97." That is very different, and at least leaves me with some hope that there are some bishops who take issue with the proposed (and now passed) curriculum. <BR/>Can you please let me know what the true vote was?

3 Anonymous

Nov. 22, 2007
Here's another article that names the unanimous vote:<BR/><BR/>http://www.georgiabulletin.org/world/2007/11/16/US-7/

4 Anonymous

Nov. 22, 2007
Here's another article that names the unanimous vote:<BR/><BR/>http://www.georgiabulletin.org/world/2007/11/16/US-7/

5 Acroamatic

Nov. 23, 2007
Thanks for the update and links to some of the history of this effort. Those who have followed this had an inkling about the general direction of the Framework, so it's not a huge surprise. I also think that for many high schools the eventual changes will represent something more in the nature of adjustments rather than reversals. What I hope for are more substantial and interesting texts and materials.

6 Acroamatic

Nov. 23, 2007
Thanks for the update and links to some of the history of this effort. Those who have followed this had an inkling about the general direction of the Framework, so it's not a huge surprise. I also think that for many high schools the eventual changes will represent something more in the nature of adjustments rather than reversals. What I hope for are more substantial and interesting texts and materials.

7 Anonymous

Nov. 27, 2007
(1)Isn't "Engaging Faith" a self-deceptive title? I've taught high school seniors religious ed for 40 years, and I've yet to encounter anything but the most naive "faith" --and that in fewer and fewer. Most of my effort goes to arguing that faith is NOT an entirely stupid idea.<BR/>(2) Would it be untoward to ask when any contributor to this new syllabus was in an actual classroom with actual kids--who've been brainwashed by TV and rock lyrics?

8 Anonymous

Nov. 27, 2007
(1)Isn't "Engaging Faith" a self-deceptive title? I've taught high school seniors religious ed for 40 years, and I've yet to encounter anything but the most naive "faith" --and that in fewer and fewer. Most of my effort goes to arguing that faith is NOT an entirely stupid idea.<BR/>(2) Would it be untoward to ask when any contributor to this new syllabus was in an actual classroom with actual kids--who've been brainwashed by TV and rock lyrics?

9 Acroamatic

Nov. 28, 2007
Anonymous,<BR/><BR/>There ARE discouraging days. I always look at MY attitude and willingness to give myself to the mission first, and I often find that student attitudes and honesty about learning often mirror my own. Yes, our teaching must have strong, healthy content--who argues otherwise? But we deceive ourselves if we think that in this day and age the content will sell itself without our being effective witnesses. That, to me, means good pedagogy, smart collaborative planning withing the Theology/ Religion department, the support of the school community for wholistic activities and applications of justice and peace to the community's life, and teachers who try to live what they say. That's the only way good teaching will make a difference to today's students.

10 Acroamatic

Nov. 28, 2007
Anonymous,<BR/><BR/>There ARE discouraging days. I always look at MY attitude and willingness to give myself to the mission first, and I often find that student attitudes and honesty about learning often mirror my own. Yes, our teaching must have strong, healthy content--who argues otherwise? But we deceive ourselves if we think that in this day and age the content will sell itself without our being effective witnesses. That, to me, means good pedagogy, smart collaborative planning withing the Theology/ Religion department, the support of the school community for wholistic activities and applications of justice and peace to the community's life, and teachers who try to live what they say. That's the only way good teaching will make a difference to today's students.

11 lolaf

Nov. 29, 2007
I've been teaching Theology (and I mean Theology) for some 25 years. What the bishops are offering is a step back into the 1950's, a retreat to a time when the world seemed stable--we knew precisely who are enemies were, women claimed their natural roles as wives and mothers, men provided a living for their families, churches were filled, priests were plentiful, and modernity continued to haunt the perimeters of the Vatican. Until the Spirit could wait no more...

12 lolaf

Nov. 29, 2007
I've been teaching Theology (and I mean Theology) for some 25 years. What the bishops are offering is a step back into the 1950's, a retreat to a time when the world seemed stable--we knew precisely who are enemies were, women claimed their natural roles as wives and mothers, men provided a living for their families, churches were filled, priests were plentiful, and modernity continued to haunt the perimeters of the Vatican. Until the Spirit could wait no more...

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