Why I home-taught religious ed

Back when I was struggling to teach religious education to my kids, I became so appalled by the catechetical materials chosen by my parish that I decided to pull them out of the program and teach them myself. I was very fortunate to find the Faith and Life CCD program from Ignatius, which presented the faith without marshmallows, fluffy clouds and cuddly language. Instead of stick-figure cartoons, the books are illustrated with fine art. Instead of the word “special” appearing on every page (YOU are special! GOD is SPECIAL! Mass is SPECIAL!) the program gives solid doctrine that respects the intelligence of children, and their appreciation for mystery, mysticism and the supernatural. My children have, thankfully, sound appreciation for their church – they know their stuff – but more importantly, they are able to think about faith critically and intelligently, because it was taught to them intelligently.

The parish I currently attend and volunteer at uses the Faith and Life program and the kids coming out of the program are sane and devoted.

How the kids learning the faith through this program are going to fare, I can only guess.

This is just bad teaching. Bad catechetics. We’ve had 30 years of this sort of dumbed-down, nicey-nicey teaching…and we’re paying for it.

Jesus said “feed my sheep…” I believe he meant the nourishing food of intelligent catechesis, and not the candy and vanilla these sorts of programs provide.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://www.anamericanhousewife.com Housewife

    WHEW! Thanks for the heads up. My children are just starting their second year. They will be baptized soon and then proceeding on. I will keep an eye on their teachings. I had NO idea these watered-down “versions” were out there.

    And about the trackback thing. Maybe the people trackbacking to you, the ones not getting through, are not registered? I tried trackbacking to someone else and I was not registered on their website. I am now though. Will give it another whirl.

  • http://www.anamericanhousewife.com Housewife

    WHEW! Thanks for the heads up. My children are just starting their second year. They will be baptized soon and then proceeding on. I will keep an eye on their teachings. I had NO idea these watered-down “versions” were out there.

    And about the trackback thing. Maybe the people trackbacking to you, the ones not getting through, are not registered? I tried trackbacking to someone else and I was not registered on their website. I am now though. Will give it another whirl.

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    Anchoress, in case you are up — Peter Jennings’ death was announced by ABC at midnight tonight.

    In One Year, my blogpiece about it, covers the late-news surprise exbited in their announcements.

    He was 67, and a lifelong smoker. Toughie.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    Anchoress, in case you are up — Peter Jennings’ death was announced by ABC at midnight tonight.

    In One Year, my blogpiece about it, covers the late-news surprise exbited in their announcements.

    He was 67, and a lifelong smoker. Toughie.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    As to the general topic at-hand:

    In the past 5 years or so, I went from highly skeptical to encouraging of home-schooling.

    I have a dear friend who home-schools her brood of 5, with her also BA degree in educationed sister (who has 6 nippers).

    They are of course, Roman Catholic, but not rich — since that would mean public schools, to which they were adamantly opposed, their kids were home-schooled.

    And if their families are anything to go by, it is perhaps the most important educational revolution in the US since the GI Bill.

    I’m a big fan now (albeit, God willing, I will send my own to my old school in England).

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    As to the general topic at-hand:

    In the past 5 years or so, I went from highly skeptical to encouraging of home-schooling.

    I have a dear friend who home-schools her brood of 5, with her also BA degree in educationed sister (who has 6 nippers).

    They are of course, Roman Catholic, but not rich — since that would mean public schools, to which they were adamantly opposed, their kids were home-schooled.

    And if their families are anything to go by, it is perhaps the most important educational revolution in the US since the GI Bill.

    I’m a big fan now (albeit, God willing, I will send my own to my old school in England).

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  • http://www.catholicpillowfight.com Tony Miller

    My daughter, who is 15, has been taking CCD since she left the Catholic school system in 6th grade. She has suffered in her current CCD classes since then. She finally said: “I don’t want to take religious ed anymore. I’m not learning anything there!”. I spoke with our pastor, and he gave her permission to take an independent study program. We are looking at the online course at CatechismClass.com. She really wants to learn, and I think this will be the opportunity she needs to take off. She used to relegate me with stories about how the teacher placed the sacraments on the chalkboard, and missed “reconciliation”. My daughter had to correct her. You’d think she’d have known there were supposed to be *seven* of them. There was also a case where they asked the class what a “Galilean” was and the best one of the other kids could come up with was “A follower of Galileo?” :)

  • http://www.catholicpillowfight.com Tony Miller

    My daughter, who is 15, has been taking CCD since she left the Catholic school system in 6th grade. She has suffered in her current CCD classes since then. She finally said: “I don’t want to take religious ed anymore. I’m not learning anything there!”. I spoke with our pastor, and he gave her permission to take an independent study program. We are looking at the online course at CatechismClass.com. She really wants to learn, and I think this will be the opportunity she needs to take off. She used to relegate me with stories about how the teacher placed the sacraments on the chalkboard, and missed “reconciliation”. My daughter had to correct her. You’d think she’d have known there were supposed to be *seven* of them. There was also a case where they asked the class what a “Galilean” was and the best one of the other kids could come up with was “A follower of Galileo?” :)

  • stephanie

    Umm, Victoria, Peter Jennings quit smoking 20 years ago. That amounts to almost a thrid of his life. Where do you get “lifelong smoker?

  • stephanie

    Umm, Victoria, Peter Jennings quit smoking 20 years ago. That amounts to almost a thrid of his life. Where do you get “lifelong smoker?

  • bestdiva

    I taught with Faith and Life last school year to CCD here in SF. The ghetto kids and the richies all got it and from 6 years to 13 years old, sounded like little old theologians. It was amazing. Truly a great series.

    On a related note, departing Archbishop Levada did throw out bad catechisms here in our diocese and did back the F&L series from what I hear from other catechists in the know. That is one thing we conserv’s here are grateful for, but not too much else.

  • bestdiva

    I taught with Faith and Life last school year to CCD here in SF. The ghetto kids and the richies all got it and from 6 years to 13 years old, sounded like little old theologians. It was amazing. Truly a great series.

    On a related note, departing Archbishop Levada did throw out bad catechisms here in our diocese and did back the F&L series from what I hear from other catechists in the know. That is one thing we conserv’s here are grateful for, but not too much else.

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    Stephanie, when it was announced he had lung-cancer in April, they mentioned he had quit smoking “for a time”, but after 2001, he had started up again, only to ‘quit’ sometime in 2004.

    That’s where I got it.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  • http://futuremd.blogspot.com/ Victoria

    Stephanie, when it was announced he had lung-cancer in April, they mentioned he had quit smoking “for a time”, but after 2001, he had started up again, only to ‘quit’ sometime in 2004.

    That’s where I got it.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  • Big Sissy

    I teach 7th and 8th grade at a parochial school in Tacoma. Both my principal and I are in firm agreement that the kids need to get a heavy dose of doctrine in our junior high because, even if they go to the Jesuit high school up the road, this will probably be the last opportunity for most of them to have it hammered into them (in a loving way of course).
    We use a series called Living our Faith from Harcourt with which I am VERY happy.
    My shining example of its doctrinal richness is that one of the vocabulary words for the Morality unit is “concupiscence”. You’d have to agree…that is some GOOD shi…uh…stuff!

  • Big Sissy

    I teach 7th and 8th grade at a parochial school in Tacoma. Both my principal and I are in firm agreement that the kids need to get a heavy dose of doctrine in our junior high because, even if they go to the Jesuit high school up the road, this will probably be the last opportunity for most of them to have it hammered into them (in a loving way of course).
    We use a series called Living our Faith from Harcourt with which I am VERY happy.
    My shining example of its doctrinal richness is that one of the vocabulary words for the Morality unit is “concupiscence”. You’d have to agree…that is some GOOD shi…uh…stuff!