Frank Mercadante, founder of the very successful Cultivation Ministries that has offered training seminars for youth ministers for the past twenty years, offers the following acronym to help youth ministers be better catechists to the youth they serve. His suggestions also are very applicable to classroom teachers. The acronym E-D-U-C-A-T-E with some notes from Frank taken from his book Growing Teen Disciples (St. Mary’s Press, 2002) follows.
E Emphasize Interaction
“When a teen is not given the opportunity to interact and be a partner in learning, he or she concludes that the class does not belong to him or her in any way, shape, or form, but is solely possessed by the catechist.”
D Diversity of Learning Approaches
“Variety of activity is a boredom-buster….Teens learn differently. By utilizing a variety of different methods we increase our likelihood of satisfying a greater number of our participants.”
U Utilize Life Experience
“Every adolescent arrives at a session with relevant experiences. We need to capitalize on these experiences by helping draw a connection point from their life to the teachings of the Church.”
C Content Moderation
“Our meetings should emphasize only one, two, or maybe three points of content. We are on a lifelong journey. No one needs to know everything before their eighteenth birthday.”
A Applicable to Real Life
“When a young person describes a class or subject as “boring” or a “waste of time,” what he or she often means is that “I will never have to use this information in real life.” Faith is a verb. We are meant to live it.
T Three-Fold Response
“Genuine faith involves a response of the whole person—mind heart, and will. Effective catechesis helps foster faith in all three dimensions: trusting (heart), believing (mind) and doing (will).”
E Environment of Concern
“We may employ all of the above principles for effective adolescent catechesis, yet foster little or now growth. Without a warm, caring, and accepting environment, we possess only the “batter” for spiritual faith and growth. This batter is transformed into the real thing when “baked” in an atmosphere of genuine love.