Beyond Words by David Warren

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Beyond Words

David Warren on Giving & Getting Attention in the Religious Classroom

Children are the most honest audience. You can thrill them or bore them and they cannot hide a smile or a drooping head. Anyone who has taught children in any context has struggled to gain and keep their attention. This seems all the more difficult in religious classrooms, unaided as they are by consequences like grades, the possibility of failure, or parental pressure. That is precisely why educators, especially religious ones, are novelists—that is, creators and purveyors of the new, of the cutting-edge, no matter how it comes to them. What educators are pursuing are the most relevant and interesting ways of relating to children (or adults), because they need their attention.

Now, if it is appropriate to ask what methods will gain and keep attention, it is also appropriate to ask what effect these methods will have on educators and their students. The answer to that question may, in fact, provide an answer to the first.

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David Warren is a lay catechist at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville, Illinois.

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