Imágenes de páginas

It is quite possible that in many instances the only definitely spiritual influence in the lives of the boys and girls is that which they receive in the Church School. The test of the value of the school will not be its numerical strength, its percentage of attendance, its perfection of organization nor its financial showing. But it will be seen in later years when the boys and girls come into conflict with the powers of evil and are able to resist them because they learned how to go to God for help and to use His grace in their hour of need. We strongly suspect that some schools have exerted but little influence upon either their teachers or pupils because there was no definite purpose in their work, no great spiritual vision toward which every member of the school strove with all of his powers, no great call to which he could truthfully consecrate his will. But we have never seen a school fail when its leaders were consciously striving to see and know God's will, and sincerely using His grace in accomplishing it.

When we have determined upon the real purpose for which we wish to have a Church School, certain definite factors will be found necessary to carry it into effect. Since the school is intended for the spiritual training of children, they are the first and most important element in its life. We must have children. To accomplish worth-while results with them we shall require a course of study prepared to meet the needs of the child and progressing by pedagogical steps so as to cover the subjects in which he should be trained, giving him an opportunity to express in worship and in his social life the ideals he is being taught to value; and we shall need teachers who feel it a privilege to consecrate their talents and their time to equip themselves to be worthy leaders in this glorious work. These two factors are essential. We must have them. Others are of great assistance, but we can do our work even if we have not the most modern type of building, equipped with the most complete line of helps. Let's use what we have.

In selecting a course of study our work is greatly simplified because the Church, through the General Board of Religious Education, has provided "The Christian Nurture Series," which

is the most complete and satisfactory course yet produced for Church children. It is not the product of one mind, but is the result of the careful study and experience of a large number of men and women in the Church, who have tested every part and have given us the net result of their experience. Because these men and women are consecrating their talents to the sacred work, and are seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may look forward with confidence to its growth under His leading.

The Christian Nurture Series may be divided into two natural sequences. The first is known as "Church Pathways," which undertakes to help the child develop the right feelings toward God and the facts of our religion. He is first taught to trust God as our loving Father in Heaven from Whom He receives all things. He learns the story of the Saviour's coming and other events developed in the Church Year. Simple forms of prayers are taught, and he is shown how to be helpful to others. In the succeeding courses in this sequence the scheme of the Church Catechism is followed, designed to prepare the child for a fuller understanding of the Catechism as it is studied at a later period. The devotional life of the child receives careful attention. He is trained in worship by the use of services with hymns and prayers which express the love of his soul for God. These services are held in a special chapel, or (where that is not possible) in a room prepared reverently with a temporary altar, in order that he may learn to approach God in worship in the way God appointed. At frequent intervals the little children are to be brought to the regular services of the Church, and taught that because they are God's children He loves to have them come and worship Him. In the fifth Course (about the third grade in public school) the themes build toward the Catechism ideas of the Covenant, Prayer and the Sacraments. To aid the children, they are taken on regular "Pilgrimages" into the Church, where the Rector (or some other qualified person) carefully explains to them the symbolism and meaning of the Font, the Altar, the Cross, the Lights, the Vestments, etc. Along with this widening knowledge of the Church are carefully chosen

additions to his prayer-life and definite acts of Christian service for others. This sequence ends with a child's survey of the missionary life of the Church, "God's Great Family."

The second sequence is "The Church's Life." It emphasizes the idea of listening while God speaks, finding God in every experience of the religious life. He first hears God speak through "The Christian Year," upon which is built an elementary life of our Lord. The next course shows him how to hear God speak through Church Worship and Membership. The services of the Holy Communion, and the Offices of the Church, are studied. Old Testament stories are used for illustration, and he is shown that just as God was able to help other men through Abraham, David and the other saints of old because they listened to Him and worshipped Him, so He will be able to help other people today through them if they will listen as He speaks to them through worship. Then follows a Life of our Lord, presented in such a way that the pupils are encouraged to live with Him in their daily experiences and to be loyal to Him in all ways. This is followed by a course on "The Long Life of the Church," in which S. Paul and other leaders of the New Testament are studied, followed in the last half of the year by sketches of some of the prominent figures in the Church's life down to our time. The final course is "The Winning of the World," hearing God speak through the spread of His message through the world, as they study the lives of His chief mes


For the Senior School a sequence on "Truth and Service" is being prepared. This will include a course on "The Contents of the Bible and Outlines of Biblical History." Another on "Christian Service," a discussion course on how the Church meets modern problems of life. Another on the relation of "The Creeds of the Church" to modern problems. Another on "The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church," designed to acquaint the pupil with the spiritual nature of the work of the Church and the grace of her Sacraments.

The special value of the Christian Nurture Series is that it has expanded the training of the children beyond merely the

informational and memory use of the lessons. In addition to these important elements in his spiritual training, it weaves into his life three other strands. He receives careful training in "Church Loyalty," in which during each year he is taught such facts as come within the scope of his experience concerning the Church building, ornaments, vestments, holy days, customs and observances, etc., and which will make him a well-trained Churchman. His devotional life is developed year by year by the use of prayers, acts and exercises of devotion, the use of the sacraments, his part and duty in the public services of the Church the devotional use of the Bible by means of daily readings (which are prescribed in each course), etc. And by no means the least, he is trained through acts of Christian service to put into daily practice toward others the ideals he has learned to love. By the use of duplex envelopes he learns the privileges of Christian stewardship, and finds pleasure in giving his money to strengthen God's work in the parish, in the mission fields and works of charity.

The co-operation of parents is essential to the success of any scheme of instruction. In this course letters are sent home at the beginning of each month, giving detailed directions to parents how to assist the child in the preparation of his work for each week. These letters come in printed forms for the teachers to send. Upon each letter is given a report of the work of the child for the previous month. These letters have been of the greatest assistance in the success of the course.

To help the teachers the Manuals for each course in the series contain full and explicit directions for the work of the year. In addition to this, it will simplify the teacher's problems if the Rector or Superintendent (or some other qualified person) will meet with her and go step by step over the work for each week, until the teacher becomes familiar with it. This need not become a burden, for a month's work can easily be gone over at each meeting. If the school is large enough to have more than one class in a grade, all the teachers of that grade may meet together, one of them being appointed as Leader of the grade. In addition to these grade meetings, there should be held every

month a meeting of the whole faculty, to discuss the Series as a whole, so that each teacher may understand the part her course fills in the whole fabric, and to study the whole subject of teaching and its problems. The Correspondence Course offered by the General Board of Religious Education offers much practical help to teachers who are not able to be in regular classes for study. Write to the Rev. Dr. Bradner, 289 Fourth Avenue, New York, for information about it.

Now we hear some one saying "All that is very fine for your big city schools, where you have lots of children and plenty of teachers. But we can't use it in our school because we are so small." And that is where he is mistaken. The Christian Nurture Series is so elastic and adaptable that it can be used in any school of any size, provided some one is willing to follow the plan. The writer has used it in a large school, where it has wonderfully stimulated the pupils and teachers. And he has also used it with equal success in a small school, by adopting "the cycle plan," in which certain courses are taught one year (for instance 1, 3, 5 and 7) and the following year the classes each take the next higher course (2, 4, 6 and 8). This is fully explained in a book on "Organizing the Smaller School," by the Rev. Dr. Bradner, published by the Young Churchman Co., Milwaukee.

The most complete results in religious education in our parishes will come when we learn to value rightly the educational possibilities of each and every organization in the parish, and make full use of it. We have not the space to discuss it here. But no vestry is fulfilling its highest function unless it is acting as a tremendous dynamo in the educational work of the congregation whom they represent. Our guilds, auxiliaries, clubs, confraternities, societies, and what not, miss the greatest opportunity they have for serving God and His people if they are not organs for educating every soul they reach, training him in better ideals of life and service, giving him nobler conceptions of his place in the world. Let us grasp the vision of service and make bold use of the opportunity these organizations have placed in our hands. We can revolutionize the life of the Church

« AnteriorContinuar »